Joey Bada$$ Says He’s A Better Rapper Than Tupac Was (Video)

In January, Joey Bada$$ released “Land of the Free,” by far the most politically-minded song of his career. The record was about self-empowerment, and featured lines like “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.”

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Last month, Joey sat down with Genius to discuss the meaning behind the lyrics. While there, he recorded another clip, talking about what Black History Month meant to him, and it yielded some very engaging discussion. When asked which figures in Black history had influenced his music, Joey named “Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Langston Hughes, Fred Hampton, Assata Shakur, Afeni Shakur, Tupac Shakur.”

After discussing how much he enjoyed Black History Month and learning about individuals such as those he named, Joey spoke about progress between generations. “I believe every generation that comes after has the opportunity to outshine the previous generation,” he said. “’Cause, look, they gave you their best. Now, they set the bar. It was like, ‘Oh that was your best? Ok.’”

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Diving deeper into the comment, Joey spoke about Tupac, specifically. One of Pac’s most cited quotes is “I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.” Picking up on that line, Joey says “I believe I am one of the minds that Pac said will spark to change the world. I believe I am one of those, but I’m probably not the one that’s gonna change the world, probably the one after me,” he says with both confidence and humility. From there, building on his point that each generation gets better than the next, he unabashedly says he can rap better than Tupac did. “I already know I’m a better rapper than Tupac,” he says just before the 1:20 mark. “That’s just facts. One-on-one battle, I’ll flame Pac.” While deadly serious, Joey says this with a laugh.

After, he brings things back around to the importance of music in messages, something of which Pac was keenly aware. “When we talk about being vocal and putting those messages out there, I don’t believe no one’s doing it in the way that I am. It is what it is. Don’t be stumped by the conditions in this country. Don’t let that hold you back.”

UPDATE: Joey Bada$$ has now added further context to his statements about his rap skills vs. those of Tupac.