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„Always connected to the spiritual world“ – Joey Bada$$ Interview

„Always connected to the spiritual world“ – Joey Bada$$ Interview

Joey Bada$$ by Daniel Shaked

 Die armen Pro-Era Jungs sind müde vom Flug. Wenn man auf den Jetlag direkt ein Öfchen genießt, wird es sicher nicht besser. Aber wer kann es ihnen verübeln? Statik Selektah skypt mit seiner Mutter. Nyck Caution und der Rest lungern in der Ecke herum. Joey Bada$$ liegt mit geschlossenen Augen auf der Couch. Er begrüßt uns knapp und ermahnt im Halbschlaf den Rest der Truppe leise zu sein, da er jetzt ein Interview hat. Wir haben fast ein schlechtes Gewissen, ihn zu wecken, aber von Frage zu Frage taut er mehr auf.

Review und Fotos zum fantastischen Konzert im WUK findet ihr hier.
Ein Just For The Records mit Statik Selektah findet ihr hier.

Fotos: Daniel Shaked (DS)
Interview: Jérémy Machto (JM) & Wanja Bierbaum (edHardygirl14)

The Message: You are a very spiritual person. Where does this sense for spirituality come from?
Joey Bada$$: I think it just comes from within. Ever since as child I was specially connected.

Does that conflict with a life as a rap artist, which is mainly considered as being very materialistic?
If you let it conflict, it conflicts. If you don’t, it doesn’t…

What do you have to do to avoid it?
Just be you. I mean, this is me. So that’s why I’m this way.

But where does the overall mindset come from?
Like I said, ever since a child I’ve always been connected to the spiritual world – I’ve always been close to God. There’s no person that put me here, I’ve always been a very spiritual person.

Auch beim weiterem Nachfragen kommt nicht wirklich viel zurück. Vielleicht weil er es vor Müdigkeit kaum schafft, die Augen offen zu halten. Vielleicht der Joint. Vielleicht gibt es dafür ja auch einfach gar keine Erklärung. Dead End also – wir beschließen das Thema gekonnt zu ändern. 

Speaking of materialism: You sold over 150,000 copies of your album B4.DA.$$ and stated on Twitter that you’re the number one independent rap artist? What do you think: Is the most selling artist the best?
Nah, when I say I’m the number one independent rap artist, it doesn’t just come from selling records. Selling records definitely attributes to it, but if it would be solely based on selling records, that would be an incorrect statement. Because there are independent artists who sell more than I do. So when I say that I’m the number one independent artist you got to look at it like this: I’m 20 years old, I’m from Brooklyn, New York, the prime place in Hip-Hop. Not only that, the numbers… you know what I’m saying? And after that, tell me who do you think is the top three independent artists? Tech N9ne, Lecrae and me. Look I have so much respect for Tech N9ne. He’s one of the people that I watch and who’s just an independent empire owner. That inspires me to do my own thing. But the difference between me and Tech – and I’m not taking anything away from Tech – is that I’m 20 years old and Tech is wide over 30. So who you think the kids are going to listen to? Who the kids are going to buy? Who do you think is going to get the kids to buy a product. Me or Tech N9ne?

Both, but from a different perspective.
Well that’s fair enough to say, but give me five more years. So I’m thinking long-term about it. That’s where it comes from when I say “I’m the number one”. ‚Cause I’m 20 years old. So I got the advantage over these cats. I’m the one person in that circle, that’s guaranteed another 15 or 20 years in the game. That’s where it comes from when I say “I’m the number one independent artist in the world.”


Okay, zugegeben, das alles hätte die 140 Zeichen von Twitter gesprengt. Erklärung angenommen. Obwohl man das sicherlich nun einfach im Raum stehen lassen muss. Weiter im Fragenkatalog, denn die Zeit rennt und es wird minütlich heißer im kleinen und stickigen Backstage-Bereich des WUK. Aber er wacht zunehmend auf und öffnet sogar die Augen. 

In times of Tidal and Apple Music how important is streaming for an independent artist?
It’s very important, but it’s rapidly changing. Everybody is hoping on the streaming wave, so something different is going to occur. We’re experiencing a musical revolution right now. Something else is going to jump off. Streaming might seem like the number one thing but something else is bubbling under the sun.

Do you have an idea what that could be?
No. But even if I did I wouldn’t tell you (laughs).

Danke dafür! Sehr kryptisch. Wieder einer dieser offenen „die Revolution wird kommen“ Prognosen. Wie lange sagt man schon, dass wir uns in einer Zeit musikalischer Revolution befinden? Hat es das nicht schon bei der CD geheißen? Ist es nicht immer Sinn der Musik sich zu revolutionieren? Darum geht’s ja schon seit Mozart und davor, oder? Aber na gut, nächstes Thema.

In the documentary, where you go to the home town of your parents, St. Lucia, you mention that it reminds you of “City of God”. That you compare yourelf with the main character. But there are two main protagonists: Buscapé and Lil Zé – the good and the bad one.
It’s kind of like a mixture of both. Because I have some tendencies and traits like Rocket (Buscapé), like my ambition is Rocket. I am that kid, who is seeing the good within his bad surroundings and uses his positive light to get along. And a part of me is also Lil Zé. I am the empire leader, I am the kid that is going into the other neighbourhoods and saying: “Nah, this is mine now” (laughs).

Joey Bada$$ by Daniel Shaked

You wear a MF Doom ring on your finger. He is a hero of yours. Do you see any connections between both of your careeers?
Well it’s very sad to say and don’t ask me any further questions on this. But we both lost our brothers at a very young ages. That is a similarity right there.

I’m sorry to hear that. But he is a musical hero of yours, you did a lot of work based on his music, you sampled stuff (World Domination, Amethyst Rockstar) and so on.
Yeah but all the work that I did, was away from him.

Did you meet him in person?
No, I never met MF Doom. Maybe he came to me without his mask and I didn’t know!

Endlich kommt er ein wenig in Fahrt. Seine Augen sind mittlerweile offen, er sitzt etwas aufrechter auf der Couch und schaut uns an, während wir mit ihm reden. Auch sein Tonfall ist wacher und freundlicher. Er lacht des Öfteren. Nach einem anfänglichen Abtasten scheint er zu merken, dass wir ihn nicht nur mit Standard-Fragen nerven und danach ein Selfie mit ihm schießen wollen.

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You were  in the XXL Freshmen Class. What do you think about the class now? Do you know the members?
Raury is a good friend from mine. Vince (Staples) ist a homie of mine too.

There is Fatty WapTink, K Camp, Shy Glizzy, DeJ Loaf, GoldLink
Yeah, a very interesting year.

Was it a big step in your career to be in the Freshmen Class?
Being a Freshman was a goal that I had since high school. So to accomplish that goal right after high school. That was really satisfying for me. It was definitely something that moved me forward in my career.

See Also

Which goals are left for you now?
There’s always going to be goals. Just because I think I’m the number one independent rapper, I still got to maintain it. So I can’t just be here now and say: “Oh I’ve completed this goal” and stop. I got to keep going, I got to keep proofing. Because even though I say that I’m the number one, there are still a lot of people who don’t see it, or don’t think, or just don’t know.

In „Unorthodox“ you said that you „Won’t sign to no major if no wager, less than a 3 million offer off the top“. Would that be one goal?
It’s 9 million now!

9 million dollars?
Yeah because they waited too long (laughs).

But is a major label still an option?
Nah nah… fuck majors!

Er kommt voll in Fahrt. Scheint, dass er gern über die Business-Sachen spricht. Sein Manager schaut zu uns hinüber und zeigt uns, dass wir noch etwa fünf Minuten haben. Wie die Zeit vergeht. Wir wollen noch einen Schwenk machen. Mal sehen, ob dazu was kommt. Badmon time! 

You did the video for “No. 99” with Rick Cordero. Where does the idea come from – with all the rioting themes and the aggressive vibes?
You know, all my video ideas come from this insane place called “my brain”. (Er deutet mit beiden Finger auf seine Schläfen, sieht uns gefühlte 2 Minuten an, um dann laut zu Lachen).  What I wanted to create was this kind of a superhero character. In all superhero-movies the hero is viewed as the bad guy to the authorities. But the people know what the deal is. So basically that’s how I see myself in music. Especially after the whole Malia Obama thing happened and people calling us “this-type” of group, labeling us… And it’s dope because my name being Joey Bada$$, people’s first perception is like: “What’s so bad?”. They are almost waiting for me to be some type of thug. That gives them a perception right away where they have to think about what to think about me. But when the people get into the music it’s almost like they are saved by it. Like “Oh shit, this guy something for me that I can grow from”. And that’s the people who are around me, those who understand the message and who are doing anything in their power to help me get through and make sure nobody fucks with me.

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And what’s the real message behind the video? After the Ferguson and Baltimore incidents?
I don’t make my videos for my moments. They are for history. And things are put in my views inspired by that always happened and are always happening. There’s definitely a connection there. It’s a revolution.


Jetzt reden wir von der wahren Revolution. Scheint zumindest so. Und auch er ist hellwach, scherzt mit uns, da bekommen wir das Handzeichen des Tourmanagers: zwei Fragen, dann Fotos. Mal sehen, wie er auf die reagiert. Lasst uns nochmal kurz über die wahren Revolutionen sprechen.

Speaking of revolution. You mention a war coming in “Black Beetles”. Is that also only in your brain, or is that coming for real?
There is a war in many places. I’m glad you mentioned my brain, because there is a war in my brain too… Ah shit, it’s shooting right now! (laughs). But yeah, I do believe that we’re coming to a tipping point in the world right now. Where so many things have been happening, now something gotta give.

Do you have something specific in mind?
Nah… words are too powerful. I wouldn’t want to be the soul that is responsible for putting it into play. But just know that something is going to change.

Okay. Das kann entweder ganz groß gedeutet werden oder nur als leere Worthülse. Das Fazit: Er wird selten konkret, lässt vieles offen und eigentlich unbeantwortet. Die hohe Kunst der Diplomatie – Schein und Blendung – oder einfach nur smart?
Fakt ist: Unsere berechtigten Zweifel, wie ein völlig übermüdeter und fertiger Joey ein Konzert bei tropischen Temperaturen spielen soll, wurden in dem Moment in Rauch zerschlagen, als er die Bühne betritt und ein jubelndes und grölendes Publikum zurücklässt.