1999 is an amazing mixtape. He was 17 when he made the album, and a student at my High School!, and the record paid tribute to what many believe was the last year of hip hop’s golden age.
Since then, his Pro Era colleague Capital Steez commit suicide, Joey has appeared with some of rap’s biggest names (Mac Miller, Kendrick, K.R.I.T., etc.), became an actor, and put out several outstanding albums (B4.DA.BADA$$ and All Amerikkkan Bada$$).
Unlike most modern rappers, Joey is careful about what he puts out–he neither floods the market nor overstuffs his albums. This is just his third album in 7 years. As a result, his discography is high quality. And 2000 is a solid addition. It’s more “pop” than some of his older stuff, but that’s not a bad thing. He can talk about serious matters–like his tribute to Steez (“Survivor’s Guilt”)–but he can also make good “driving songs” and lyrically tight jams, and he can make space for Nas, who makes an uncredited appearance on the album’s final track. There’s definitely some missteps: Bars with aging references that feel like old freestyles he’s cramming into a new song, and the awful love song with Chris Brown (I wish people would stop giving that man work). Joey tries to put himself amongst the rap legends, and he’s not at that level. But overall this a really good record, and one I’ll be returning to in the future.
And I have to give love to someone who has stayed indepedent!