Joey Bada$$ Celebrates Capital STEEZ With Some Of His Best Work
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Although Joey Bada$$ originally planned to release his 2000 album in June, the thematic followup to his breakthrough mixtape, 1999, was pushed back at the last minute—reportedly due to sample clearance issues. Now due July 22, the Pro Era/Columbia Records album received its latest look this week, “Survivors Remorse.” The song displays just how much those early days from a decade ago are on Joey’s mind. He pays tribute to his late partner Capital STEEZ, who appeared with Joey on “Survival Tactics,” a song that caught initial attention for the two Brooklyn, New York MCs. The 2022 moment examines how those two paths went in different directions. It arrived on July 7, 2022—a day when Capital STEEZ would have turned 29 years old.
The song begins with teenage Joey and STEEZ talking. The high school classmates brought tremendous thought to their art and lives, even from a young age. “Steezy told mе, ‘Get ’em,’ so I got ’em / Now my ni**a gone, he will never be forgotten / Ever since he left, I just been strugglin’ without him / ‘Cause I remember linkin’ after school and we’d be plottin’ / Talk about our problems and what we do about ’em / Journalin’ and jottin’, we ain’t know the world was watchin’ / We was just two kids tryna make it out the bottom / Now I’m rich and rotten, everyday I think about him, it’s survivor’s guilt,” begins Joey, speaking lucidly about his mind-state.
He then makes it more about STEEZ, who died after jumping from a building in late December 2012. That building was home to Cinematic Music Group, where Joey Bada$$ had signed. Steez, born Courtney Everald Dewar Jr., was just 19 years old at the time. He reportedly texted friends, including members of Pro Era and tweeted to fans before the tragic act. “Wishin’ I coulda stopped him, let alone just know how he feel / Lyrically couldn’t top him, he was the ni**a with the belt / Yeah, and that’s real rap / I couldn’t do this sh*t without him, and that’s just fact / You see, if you ain’t know Steelo then you really don’t know me though / And that’s how I separate all the real from fake people / Or the real from fake fans / Who claimin’ that they stans / But they ain’t know my mans / Until the very end, wish he was still here, I swear it feels weird / How people could accuse me for his death / Sometimes I gotta shed a real tear / You see, the truth about Steelo, he lacked the mental health / But try to tell that to people way back in 2012 / But now that it’s a mainstream topic,” he spits. Joey makes it known that STEEZ was the supreme lyricist. As Joey has gone more mainstream with his career direction, acting, and business moves, he uses the early Pro Era sound as a litmus test for real fans. Steez’s death became a hot button issue years ago in a very serious war of words between Joey Bada$$ and another Brooklyn artist, Troy Ave.
Badmon continues, addressing things rarely discussed in interviews: “I’m guessin’ I can finally open up and talk about it / So, yeah, let’s talk about it / Come into my mind, I show you where the darkest cloud is / You ready? I doubt it, but let’s go / You see, Steelo was my bigger bro / At a point in time, spiritually, we was in the same boat, but I wanted to take it slow / He wanted to take it as fast and deep as he could go, pause / Yeah, we had some problems, but what brothers don’t? Sure / Then I caught a little wave and headed back to shore / And that’s when he started drowning / And he had no one around him, so, partially, I feel it’s my fault / And that right there is my internal war / The reason why I got to feel these external flaws / The reason why I can’t heal this eternal loss / The reason why I gotta feel this survivor’s remorse / And here’s a message to his fam / I know y’all got emotional trauma, that, I understand / But I couldn’t f*ck with, y’all try to tell the world I wasn’t who I am / When all I ever tried to do was lend a hand / And give the fans the thing that they demand the most / King Capital, the fucking G.O.A.T., word / I’m just tryna get my ni**a heard / Give him what he deserves.” The verse contextualizes that Joey hears comments made from Capital STEEZ’s family and others, alluding to his credibility and action in the man’s life. The lyrics also point to Pro Era’s popularity, and reveal that STEEZ may have been effected by Joey’s early success. The same year Joey released 1999 and Rejex, Capital STEEZ unveiled AmeriKKKan Korruption and its own companion collection. In his lyrics, Badmon addresses mental health concerns.
Joey uses his second verse to address another passing, his cousin, Junior B. The sentiment holds true. Then Ab-Soul enters. Across the country, Ab was a staunch supporter of STEEZ during their years as Rap contemporaries. In 2016, Soulo also jabbed at Troy Ave during Joey’s conflict.
The song is produced by Rahki, who has worked with Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller, Rejjie Snow, and EARTHGANG.
The AFH playlist currently features other new music from Joey Bada$$, including recent collaborations with Black Thought, Danger Mouse, and Russ, as well as a single alongside Chance The Rapper. Ab-Soul is also featured on the collection of songs.
#BonusBeat: A 2012 Ambrosia For Heads interview with Joey Bada$$ that features Capital STEEZ appearing alongside the members of Pro Era:
Press image by Waqas Ghani provided by Orienteer.