Joey Bada$$ is a young man, 18 to be exact. Especially young to have just dropped Summer Knights, a rich 17-track mixtape, as his sophomore follow up to last year’s solo debut, 1999. When I was 18, I couldn’t do most things half as well as Joey Bada$$ does this thing. Hell, I still can’t.
Summer Knights sneaks up on you, opening the mixtape with “Alowha,” produced by Kirk Knight, mixed up opening, a stylistic hodgepodge that leaves you wondering what will come next. What comes next is “Hillary $wank,” produced by Lee Bannon, with its plentiful horns and rapid beats.
Moving on to “My Youth,” featuring Collie Buddz, and produced by by Chuck Strangers, we are greeted by a startling air horn that gives way to solid rhymes over a likable calypso inspired beat. Speaking of likable, I am inclined to like “Death Of YOLO,” featuring Smoke DZA, produced by Bruce Leekix. On the title alone, with “YOLO” being the most played out catchphrase in some time. A dope beat supports that initial assertion, invoking a steady head nod that lasts the duration of the song.
“Right On Time,” produced by Kirk Knight is a legit slow jam, perfectly appropriate for a sultry summer storm. The female vocals are bewitching, accompanied by the twinkling piano. Perhaps more suited than its predecessor to solo contemplation, “Sweet Dreams” produced by Navie D.], is a heady number, bolstered by the production talents of Navie D. The song highlights the effortlessness of the flow present on the entire mixtape, floating from narrative riffs like, “Been on my grind, I keep it 50/50, That’s a hundred on the real,” to boasts, such as, “Our music is the cure, like some vaccines.”
“47 Goonz,” featuring Dirty Sanchez & Nyck Caution, once agin produced by Lee Bannon, turns the knob to dark and contemplative. The moody joint employs full lyrical range, from marijuana (“hot box the whip, and let smoke fill the room”) to Harry Potter (“this ain’t Quidditch, but you know the snitch get caught”) references.
Alchemist fans will appreciate “Trap Door” and its slow, sleepy storytelling. Similarly, “Amethyst Rockstar,” featuring Kirk Knight, and produced by MF DOOM is just one of Kirk Knight’s grand contributions to Summer Knights. Prepare to chuckle when you hear, “I know God personally, in fact, he let’s them call him me.” I did. There’s lots of wordplay here for punnier members of the audience.
Summer Knights closes it up with the DJ Premiere produced “Unorthodox” which serves as a tidy wrap-up to a compilation filled with smart decisions on everything from his star-studded choice of collaborators, to his varying stylistic bents, to his incorporation of just enough experimentation to make it interesting, while keeping it real. You’ll enjoy Joey Bada$$’ latest creation cover to cover.
DOWNLOAD: Joey Bada$$ – Summer Knights (Mixtape)