Joey Bada$$ Calls Out MCs Who Perpetuate Genocide In A Powerful Performance

There have been at least 59 Rap artists who have died from gun violence. That’s more than one per year for a Hip-Hop genre which is less than 50 years old. Last night (October 4) at the 2022 BET Hip Hop Awards, during the performance of the night, Joey Bada$$ made a powerful statement about the role rappers are playing in their own undoing and, like KRS-One 33 years earlier, called for Hip-Hop culture to stop the violence.

Joey took the stage for a performance of his Statik Selektah-produced single “Head High,” from his stellar 2000 album. The song is about maintaining a positive mentality when faced with adversity, particularly the threat of violence that so often plagues rappers. In the original version, Joey’s second verse tells the story of the relationship he formed with XXXtentacion, before the Miami-based rapper was slain during a robbery attempt.

Joey Bada$$ Has Released The Best Album Of His Career

During last night’s performance Bada$$ rapped an entirely new verse which expanded his lens on violence in Hip-Hop across multiple generations. Wearing all white, Joey was surrounded by dancers wearing all black, save for the white lettering and numbers on the backs of their hoodies. A close examination reveals that each dancer has a name and number, representing an MC who was killed and the number that rapper’s death was in a growing list of Hip-Hop homocides. Starting with Boogie Down Productions’ Scott La Rock at number 1, the artists featured include Tupac (7), Biggie (9), Big L (11), XXXTentacion (39), Nipsey Hussle (45), Young Dolph (49) and more, culminating with PNB Rock (59) who was killed just last month in Los Angeles.

In the new verse which is part introspection and part social commentary, Joey raps “I pray my execution won’t be televised / Lord forbid I die by homocide / Rappers dying nowadays is normalized / While these records labels getting paid off the traumatized / Black lives sponsoring the genocide / Tantalizing young kids, I sit back and analyze / Channeling Tupac and Big, difference is I’m ready to live.

Hip-Hop Needs To Take A Stand On Gun Violence. We’ll Go First.

When the verse is over, Joey speaks powerful words to the audience and the world, stating that the problem cannot just be blamed on external factors and Hip-Hop culture and those who comprise it must hold themselves accountable and do better. “As rappers, we gotta stop perpetuating our own genocide,” he says. “It’s a war going on inside and outside no man is safe from. How y’all rappers call yourselves real [and] turnaround [and] tell these kids to kill each other? You see, the problem is we’re our biggest ops. I’m done pointing fingers at the judges and the cops. It’s time to take accountability, from Scott La Rock, Big L, Biggie and Pac, X to Nip, King Von to Pac, Young Dolph, now PNB Rock. How many more names I gotta drop?”

At the end of what is clearly a mic drop moment, Joey does just that and walks off the stage.

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#BonusBeat: A 2012 Ambrosia For Heads interview with Joey Bada$$ that features Capital STEEZ appearing alongside the members of Pro Era: