Mixtape review: Joey Bada$$ shines on ‘Rejex’

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Ever since releasing his debut opus ‘1999’ in June, Brooklyn emcee Joey Bada$$ has begun making moves on the hip-hop circuit. He’s going from high-school classroom to the main stage: from appearances on the popular “Smoker’s Tour” to features with Mac Miller and a stunning visual on his music video “waves” directed by Va$htie, it’s clear that Joey is capitalizing on his momentum. This perfectly sets up the release of his latest project, Rejex.

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The appropriately titled Rejex is a compilation of 14 songs that didn’t make the cut on his first offering, 1999. Although they were rejected, make no mistake; these tracks are no slouches. He opens with a bold declaration of “back when rappers were really rappers,” seemingly placing himself above the current climate of his peers.  Rejex is filled with tracks about love, aspirations, and the sport of rap itself.  With standout cuts such as ‘Indubitable,’ ‘The Gushy,’ and ‘Catharsis,’ Joey continues lacing records that give off an aura of ’90s nostalgia with a venomous flow that would make the late Big-L proud.

“Vigorous, the illest realest lyricist/ I’m sick like Syphilis/ Got a certificate for killing sh*t/ and any innocent who witness the f*cking incident/got a team of militants, punch lines crush ligaments  ”

Serving as more of a placeholder with the intent to keep the attention of his fans going than a full project, Rejex falls slightly short of its intent. The sequence isn’t as fluid as 1999 and some records seem random. Rejex capitalizes on the essence that is ‘New York Rap’ from his sound to content, but this can also be an area of concern. Will this perfectly crafted and comfortable pocket be his very own glass ceiling, like other New York rappers before him? Nothing on this tape (or its predecessor for that matter) fits a more radio or popular format, so it can easily be boxed in. Or will he bring the ears of popular culture to him?

Leaving room for improvement, Rejex proves if nothing else that Joey – who isn’t even old enough to legally buy cigarettes, raps better than anyone in his age range and probably a couple of tiers above him as well. Pick up Rejex exclusively on livemixtapes.com.

Chris Martin is a Brooklyn-based writer. He is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University and co-editor of itstheratpack.com. You can follow him on twitter at @SozeSays.