Finally! Finally, finally, finally! Hip-hop heads have been waiting for this day since 2012. Fair warning – this rating may be high due to the nostalgia aspect. 1999 was Joey Bada$$’s debut mixtape, in which he features many members of his group Pro Era. This mixtape quickly became an instant classic. The project hints at the “golden age” of hip-hop back in the 90s with ’99 being the capstone year of it all. Joey B uses his talents and vibey beats to give it that old school flow.
Mr. Bada$$ (aka Jo-Vaughn Scott) is one hell of a lyricist. He is a young rapper with an old soul. You almost get that more chill Q-Tip sound. Joey B’s talents show especially on songs like “Survival Tactics” and “Funky Ho’$”. He develops these rhyming patterns on verses that hit with every bass kick or hi-hat. Sometimes he spaces them out or from time to time he will hit you with three rhyming words in a row. Not only are his vocals great, but the features he utilizes make it all the better. Being all members of Pro Era, Capital Steez, Chuck Strangers, CJ Fly, T’Nah Apex, and Kirk Knight bring that same high level of standards to the table. No one wants to outshine the main artist, nor look like an idiot. They all bring the perfect amount of character to their verses that amplify the vibe of the mixtape.
Alright. Anytime you bring an all-star cast of producers together, they will create. Period. Joey B’s group was literally the Avengers of producers with guys like MF Doom, Freddie Joachim, and J Dilla just to name a few. The instrumentals for “Waves” was so fantastic that even J. Cole couldn’t ignore it and used it on his recent single “Prophets”. MF Doom’s production of “World Domination” was so uniquely different. Starting with a sample pulled off the 90s cartoon show Pinky and the Brain, he creates this funky, almost carnival-like sound that Joey B flows perfectly over. It brings in this different sound that I think is unique to albums from that “golden age” – always trying to include that one funky song on their project.
This was originally a mixtape and I wish Joey B had taken the time to remaster it. While it is a great album, the overall production isn’t perfect. It has got its flaws, which is okay, but if we are looking at it all together, we have to consider them. Transitions aren’t fluid and sometimes you get this almost garage-like sound on the beats. One thing I do have to give major props for is the use of scratching. This is a DJ trick from that “golden age” that rarely gets used these days but fits in perfectly on this project.
“Hardknock” and “Snakes” are two great underrated tracks. “Third Eye Sh*t” (or “Suspect”) is hands down the best song on the mixtape and is worth the eleven minutes. Trust me. That Joey Bada$$ verse at the end is killer.
Personally, this is one of my favorite mixtapes. Joey B has such a great old school flow that works so well with the vibe. Sure there are flaws but any underground project will have those. Joey B and all of his features’ verses are just too good. Too plain good. 1999 gets a rating of:
If you only started listening to Joey Bada$$ after All-Amerikkkan Bada$$, then please go back and listen to this mixtape and you will thank me. After all that talk of Joey B, I will leave you with one of CJ Fly’s verses. Don’t @ me!
“I’m in Marty McFly mode, so tell ’em that the future’s back.”