5 Years After “1999,” Joey Bada$$ Is Still Fighting To Restore New York’s Place In Hip-Hop (Video)

Today (June 12) is the fifth anniversary of Joey Bada$$’ releasing his 1999 mixtape. The Brooklyn, New York MC used that opportunity to make a powerful impression on Hip-Hop. Starting with debut video single “Survival Tactics,” featuring Capital STEEZ, he brought a colorful crew and retro style with him. In the time that followed, fans of Pro Era popped around the globe, including even within The White House. Joey would subsequently release two #5 albums and hang with the likes of Jay Z, Puff Daddy, and others. Appearing this morning on Joe Budden’s Everyday Struggle show, Joey was candid about just where exactly he believes his success in those last five years came from.

In April, Joey appeared opposite Ebro Darden of HOT 97/Beats 1, and the Pro Era leader was critical of New York radio’s support of its own. Two months ago, Bada$$ said, “New York radio, in my opinion, hasn’t really grown too much in the last couple of years. It’s stayed the same. Everybody else is beating us out now. You got Atlanta killing it, L.A. killing it. You know why? Because they got young people involved, and they getting the inner cities involved. They supporting their hometown artists on some other sh*t. Not just supporting their hometown mainstream artists. They’re supporting their hometown artists, undeniably, no matter what.” The MC named names, including a man often viewed as the gate-keeper of New York radio: Funkmaster Flex. “No disrespect to [Funkmaster] Flex, but Flex don’t really know the sh*t until it’s already poppin’ on the internet. Like sh*t been poppin’ for months — and not even talking about Flex; radio in general — sh*t been poppin’ for months, and radio don’t know about it until five, six months later. And then y’all wanna jump on it and play it.

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On today’s show, co-host Nadeska Alexis of Complex asked Joey if those views had softened or altered after some weeks.

“I don’t think that radio should ever be late on local artists. That’s my whole point…I’m here, I’m from New York. I’m also one of the very few ni**as from New York [that is] carrying this sh*t all the way across the world,” says the Cinematic Music Group MC. “It’s really only me and [A$AP] Rocky touring globally…pardon anybody else who I may’ve left out, but [we] are the most [exposed]. That’s just how I feel.” These remarks are within the first five minutes of the episode.

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Illustrating his point, Joey credits the Internet with doing what he feels radio would not. “I think there are many ways where I could have been more supported. I’m an artist where the world recognized me before my hometown even recognized me. I’m sure that’s ’cause of the Internet and sh*t. But as soon as they got wind, they should have been on it, instead of being distant from jump.”

Joe does state that he believe radio’s support had a lot to do with the success of All AmeriKKKan Bada$$ first single “DEVASTATED,” which has now been certified gold. “Ever since I [made my comments], I definitely noticed a shift.” The hosts ask the MC if he feels it’s a mass issue. The New Yorker stresses that he exclusively speaks from his experience. “I can talk about where we at than where we not.” He does add that following the initial remarks, he heard from allies that work at radio that other new artists were acting more boldly during station visits.

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In related news, there was new, symbolic activity on the Twitter account of Capital STEEZ. The Pro Era MC (born Courtney Dewar, Jr.) died in December of 2012 after jumping from the roof of his label. His last tweet, alluding to his suicide with “The End,” was followed with a new tweet, more than four years later. This message said “The Beginning.”

Associates of STEEZ have suggested that unheard music of his would be released.

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Joey Bada$$ revealed that he is planning a special 1999 invitation-only tribute concert in Manhattan.

#BonusBeat: 1999:

STEEZ worked on three of that tape’s 15 songs.