Joey Bada$$’s Mad Max-Inspired Video Shows Tupac Was His Biggest Influence
Last week, Joey Bada$$ made headlines for saying “I already know I’m a better rapper than Tupac. That’s just facts. One-on-one battle, I’ll flame Pac.” The statement was in the context of him discussing Black History Month’s significance to him. One of Joey’s central themes in the conversation was that each generation improves upon the last one and, given that Tupac was an idol from a past generation, and Joey’s biggest influence, he took what was passed down from Pac and other MCs, and improved upon it. Whether one agrees or not with the sentiment, his statement was more Hip-Hop–a genre in which any serious MC should think he or she is the best in the world–than a sign of disrespect.
Now, Joey returns with the video for his song “Land of the Free,” and it further links him with Pac. For many, what made Tupac so great was his ability to touch on all aspects of life, from the profane to the profound. He could equally flip from talking about his favorite types of alcohol blowing your mind, to celebrating Black women and mothers. Pac also had a revolutionary side, that was rivaled by few not named Chuck D or Ice Cube.
While Joey has been similarly well-rounded in his subject matter, he had not been overtly political on any song, until “Land of the Free.” On the record, Joey laments the state of the union, spelling America with three k’s, as Ice Cube did on his debut solo album, Amerikkka’s Most Wanted. On one particularly potent exchange, he says “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.”
Not only does Joey align with Tupac’s political mindset on the record, he borrows a metaphor Pac used in one of his most famous videos, for his “Land of the Free” visual. Tupac’s “California Love” video was a blockbuster affair, inspired by the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The big budget short film starred Pac, Dre, Chris Tucker, Roger Troutman and more, and was reportedly inspired by Jada Pinkett. Joey, for his video, also taps into the Mad Max franchise, donning a similar outfit as the main character and utilizing a similar vehicle. It also takes place in a desert, representing the barren, post-apocalyptic world portrayed in the films.
Picking up where the song’s themes leave off, Joey’s vision of the world is stark. People are lined up as part of firing squads, crosses are burned, and the scene is dismal. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. He offers a ray of hope, in the form of the children–the next generation–and he, himself, refuses to stop fighting. It’s a message that will resonate with many, these days.