Joey Bada$$ Says Obama Wasn’t Enough. America Needs to Wake Up (Video)
On Inauguration Day, Joey Bada$$ released “Land Of the Free,” an exercise in Hip-Hop as political tool. In the song, the Brooklyn, New York MC continues a tradition present throughout his young yet inspiring career, tackling everything from the KKK to personal destiny. As such, the song’s lyrics are potent, which is why they make for a fascinating point of discussion.
Joey recently sat down with Genius to unpack some of the words to the politically inflamed record, including the part where he spells America as “AmeriKKKa,” a la Ice Cube. “I put the three Ks in America. You know what that’s for, the super corrupted side of the country,” he says before sharing an anecdote about a young fan who came up to him, repeating those very lyrics. Joey says he realized the impact his words were having on the eight-year-old, like, “wow, that kid is gonna forever grow up in that America because of me.”
Next, he discusses the lyrics “realize the real games that they tried to show us/300+ years of them cold shoulders/Yet 300 million of us still got no focus/Sorry America, but I will not be your soldier/Obama just wasn’t enough, I need some more closure/And Donald Trump is not equipped to take this country over.” In reflecting on the meaning he is hoping to convey to his listeners, Joey says that, while having a Black president is an inherently “good thing,” Obama’s election “put us to sleep because a lot of Black people was like ‘OK, my president is Black, let me turn my back. Let me not worry about what’s goin’ on over there.'” Furthermore, he argues that electing a Black man served as a distraction tactic, seducing us by saying “look! You got a Black president now! You ain’t got nothin’ else to worry about.” The reality is, Joey says, there are still “stereotypes existing all over this country,” adding he “won’t be fooled. Just because you gave me a Black president don’t mean all our problems is resolved. It don’t mean our history is erased.”
In the song’s bridge, Joey raps “in the land of the free, it’s for the free loaders/Leave us dead in the street to be their organ donors/They disorganized my people, made us all loners/Still got the last name of our slave owners.” “My last name is Scott,” says Joey when explaining those lyrics. “I googled Scott. It’s a Scottish name. So that comes from a type of Scottish slave owner somewhere down the line in my family bloodline,” he shares. He says he also googled the family name of his other side, the French “Virginny,” which he says makes sense because his mother’s family is St. Lucian. “That shit opened my eyes like crazy, like ‘damn. We still got the last name of our slave owners!'”
Verse 2 touches on public housing and “project experiments,” which he says leads to impoverished communities having prisons and police precincts nearby as a form of social control. He also mentions opioid addiction, criminal justice failures, Karl Marx, and much more.
An official release date for Joey’s forthcoming LP ABBA are still pending, but he did release an unrelated loosie in the form of “Victory” earlier this month.