Joey Bada$$ is the face of new New York rap. The 18-year-old Brooklyn native flipped Internet fame into real-life buzz with his debut mixtape 1999 last year and became one of the city’s most prodigious rhymers. His tender age belies his mature lyricism and Joey has already received cosigns from the likes of A$AP Rocky, Mac Miller and even Jay-Z.
Joey releases his second tape Summer Knights today and spoke to us about life as a famous rapper … who still lives at home with his Mom.
You probably don’t remember, but the first time we met was around 2 a.m. at Premier Studios last year. I’ll be honest, I was wondering why you were breaking curfew there of all places.
Why? Because you think I’m a little baby?
No, but I’d think a rapper could find somewhere better than Times Square to get into trouble at 2 a.m. We assume rappers have fun lives.
Who says I was making trouble? Do me a favor, don’t assume. I was putting in that work at the studio. Working hard.
You were probably working on Summer Knights which dropped today. Let’s talk about it.
It’s my second mixtape. My second solo mixtape. Don’t expect anything. If you don’t expect anything, you’ll appreciate it way more. Eliminate your expectations. It’s a different side of Joey.
What side is that?
So Summer Knights is like a Choose Your Own Adventure book?
Your influences like classic Jay-Z and Wu-Tang predate your actual age. Did you grow up listening to older records?
Yeah. You got it right there. Right on the money. My Mom, my parents, my older cousins and shit, they were always just playing that. That’s what I was always around.
Does your Mom listen to your music now? Is that weird?
She listens to me now. Nah. It’s the coolest shit ever. But yeah, there are still moments when I cringe.
On that topic, do you still live in Brooklyn in your Mom’s house?
Yeah. I still live in Brooklyn in my Mom’s house. They don’t pay me enough.
But you’re a famous rapper! Do you have to do chores like take out the trash
Yeah. ‘Cause I’m the man of the house.
That’s very nice. We recently interviewed Big Daddy Kane on Brooklyn gentrifying and he said, “I feel like they’re erasing history.” What do you think?
I mean, it sounds like he hating to me. Don’t get me wrong. I fucks with Big Daddy Kane; he’s the O.G. That sounds kind of weird to me.
Starbucks and American Apparel can’t be ruining Brooklyn single-handedly,
Right. I don’t know. Maybe Starbucks is okay.
You’re the indie rapper who famously refused to sign with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation. That’s pretty cool to be the one guy who turned down Jay-Z.
It wasn’t really a “turn down,” it was more of a mutual understanding. People and the media are going to change things to what they want to hear. It’s more, he seen my vision and he got what I was trying to do. That’s what it was. He was like, “I see you little homie.”
Are you and Jay-Z still friends? Can you just text him whenever you want?
I wish, man. A lot of relationships you think that rappers have with each other are not true. It’s fiction.
Is there anything that a major label could offer to get you to sign now?
Three million. Off the top.
If I gave you $3 million right now, you’d sign to my record label?
Hell yeah. Get my Mom out the hood. You feel me?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 1, 2013