Now that I’ve got your attention with that CLICKBAIT-inspired title, I’ve just got to say – yes that title is 100% true. *plot twist*
This past Sunday I went to Church – concert church that is, and joined a couple hundred other hip hop heads in Austin, Texas for Joey BadA$$’ AmeriKKKana Tour featuring Boogie, Buddy and Chuck Strangers. To preface, I more often than not, head to shows on my own. I have a deep connection with music and no offense to my friends, but they don’t appreciate live shows, specifically hip hop, like I do. The cool thing about live performances though is the diversity in the crowd; roughly 90% of the crowd is there for someone on the roster – the other 10% are usually girlfriends or boyfriends or friends being dragged out because they got a free ticket.
AND THAT’S OKAY. I respect show-goers so much, especially when they come into a show thinking “Who the hell is Boogie? How do you even say his name?” (it’s buh-gie BTW) and leave absolutely in love with their new found artist.
In between waiting in line for doors to open and sets to start, I made friends with some really dope people (shout out to y’all, you da best). We all made small talk about basketball and Isaiah Rashad, how T-Pain is the OG auto-tuner in hip hop and that Architect is the best of the Flatbush Zombies.
So naturally as the night progressed and we all got more high, I mean hyped about Joey performing (many people around me had never seen him before), the argument of conscious rappers came up. That’s when this guy said he hated J. Cole and that Joey BadA$$ was a better rapper. Our whole newly formed squad stepped back faster than people unfollowing Kanye West on Twitter. A collective “Woahhhh” echoed through 20 hip hop heads ready to either fight or move to another part of the venue. Now, I’m all for people having their own music opinions except for XXX and Lil Pump fans – y’all wrong.
After taking a couple seconds, I asked the guy to explain his feelings. He simply said that J. Cole and Joey BadA$$ are completely different, and that Joey BadA$$ was a more creative rapper.
For this argument let’s start with technicalities. Both artists fall under the broad umbrella of “conscious music” even though their lyrical content is vastly different. So this guy has a half-point, in terms of lyricism, Joey has a higher original vocabulary count within his discography, he speaks to a specific demographic who can hear through his beats.
In defense, Cole speaks to a demographic of similar mindset, except his listeners are everyday people, not necessarily “big dreamers”. And before you attack me like I did that guy, I think both artists have a purpose not only in my musical journey but for the industry as a whole. Cole is very talented at creating tracks that the underlying message is right in front of you. You may not hear it right away, but it’ll be there when you’re ready. I respect his style so much, because he’s a teacher and a quiet leader.
Joey is a soldier. His music ignites emotion and prepares his listeners for a political revolution. The PROERA label (and artists associated) welcome elaborated bars filled with conversations about using art for power, and the beauty in freedom of speech (F*CK Donald Trump!).
So who is the better artist?
How do we as hip hop heads learn to respect the differences in rappers when it’s so easy to forget they all began on the same foundation? And why is it so easy to debate a fellow fan over lyrical styles when we’re too afraid to jump on the mic ourselves?
This is my fresh start, to be less judgmental of my fellow listeners and appreciators of A Capella 100-bar freestyles, just because our playlists differ. Except for xanie-rappers, I refuse to listen to your reasoning on why Kodak Black “changed your life”.
See more highlights of my time seeing the AmeriKKKana Tour on Instagram.