Joey Bada$$ Fans Should Not Be Devastated. He Didn’t Sell Out… (Video)

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Earlier this week (August 10), Joey Bada$$ released the self-directed video to “Devastated.” Dropped in May as a standalone official single, the song is a departure from the sounds of last year’s Top 5 charting debut, B4.Da.$$ and previous mixtape work. “Devastated” features a Pop-tinged chorus and an uptempo beat. Following the video, many of the Pro Era front-man’s fans criticized the change in sonic direction, and accused the MC of “selling out” on social media.

Speaking with Power 105’s The Breakfast Club this morning (August 12), Joey got right to the point about why the criticism of “Devastated” isn’t causing him to identify with the song title.

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“That’s what everybody [is] sayin’,” responded Joey (1:00) to co-host Charlamagne Tha God’s playful poke that “Joey [Bada$$] sold out!” The Brooklyn, New York artist explained, “When I made that song ‘Devastated’ I just had one mission in mind; I wasn’t even trying to make a hit song. I wanted to make an uplifting song. A lot of my catalog is really meditative, thought-provoking type of music, or real aggressive Rap-style stuff. [As I recorded ‘Devastated’ I said], ‘Yo, I’m gonna challenge myself today. I told my producer, ‘Yo, let’s make something uplifting. Speed the tempo up.’ They started [altering] the beat and the first thing that came to me was [the chorus], and the rest is history.”

As an artist known for his improvisational abilities, Bada$$ said, “I just freestyled [the lyrics]. It was just a vibe. I just went in that [recording] booth, and blacked out. [When I] came out, there was the song.” Albeit with laughter, Joey Bada$$ also made the point that radio shows such as The Breakfast Club have not supported his more lyric-driven, Hip-Hop-rooted records of the past. After show co-host DJ Envy began to say that this record fits their format—as they cannot play other songs, Joey replied, “You could, you guys just choose not to. That’s a fact.” The MC added that he realized it had hit potential when he performed it for new fans at Coachella. “By the the time the second chorus came around, the crowd knew all the words. I knew I had one.”

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As the term “sellout” came back into the fold during the interview, Joey Bada$$ spoke directly to his critics. “We sellin’ out every seat at the shows…that’s what we doin’! [Laughs]” He said that he once related to Hip-Hop Heads who struggle with an artist expanding their fan-base. “Fans are very fickle and they just want to keep you for themselves […] You just gotta be happy for your favorite artist. At the end of the day, artists all want to grow. They want to be heard. We don’t do this just so we can be heard by a little small community of people—at least not me. When I do something, I do it to the fullest capacity, the fullest potential. I want to be one of the greatest artists of all time; I don’t just rap to be an underground rapper […] That’s my mission. That’s my goal, and you need hit records, right, Envy?” He returned to make the point that he needs terrestrial radio support on playlists like The Breakfast Club.

To date, “Devastated” is Joey’s only solo single to appear on the US Hip-Hop/R&B charts (#52). Thanks to A$AP Rocky’s “1 Train,” Joey reached #31 back in 2013. That single also featured platinum guest Kendrick Lamar, Action Bronson, Yelawolf, Big K.R.I.T., and Danny Brown.

As Charlamagne joked that Joey Bada$$ may soon be chasing more fads, the MC played along. Regarding his B4.Da.$$ follow-up, Joey announced, “There’s a song with Future, a song with Young Thug—nah, I’m jokin’. I’m kiddin’.” Instead, Bada$$ earnestly revealed that he may be headed in a direction not unlike J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive—before halting further detail. “[My next album contains] no features on it right now […] This new album is…well, what new album? We talk about that [another time].”

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The “Devastated” discussion is merely the first six minutes of the conversation. Elsewhere in the interview, Joey Bada$$ spoke about his closeness with his mother, his thoughts on Troy Ave’s current situation, and Capital STEEZ’s affect on Pro Era.