The Brooklynite rapper on police control, being an old soul and why he's had it with America and its so-called "dream"
As part of our States of Independence summer takeover, 50 American indie icons have volunteered to take the Dazed Pop Quiz; a quick-fire Q&A about what they love and loathe about life in the USA. Check back here every day for more from the series.
Joey Bada$$ is about to release one of the most anticipated rap albums of 2014. His debut 'B4.Da.$$' is expected to hit stores in the Autumn and is going to be more personal than the three mixtapes before it. The 19-year-old's been rapping since high school. He started hip hop collective Pro Era with a group of friends before getting spotted by Johnny Shipes, the C.E.O. of Cinematic Music Group, after posting a freestyle video on YouTube. When Joey took on Dazed's Pop Quiz at Lovebox Festival in London, he was angry with America. The Brooklyn native had just heard about the death of Eric Garner, the 43-year-old father, who died after a New York cop put him in a chokehold. The rapper talked to us about police control, why everyone needs to watch Fruitvale Station and why he wants to leave the States for good.
What three words define the States today?
Joey Bada$$: Out of order. I think there's a lot of stupid shit that happens there. I just saw on the Internet that this guy got murdered by the police for breaking up a fight. I don't like the police, I don't like their type of control. They're trying to eliminate all the black brothers in America, they're trying to enslave us, put us in jail, just kill us. That type of shit gets on my nerves.
What law would you change or invent?
Joey Bada$$: Martial Law, the granting of police officers to search your home if they suspect anything.
What food reminds you of home?
Joey Bada$$: Salmon! I love salmon. Even though you get salmon anywhere, my mom does my favourite dish. So, everytime I get a good salmon I'm like 'Mo-ooom!' It has to have the right seasoning and be really tender. Steamed.
Where did you first fall in love?
Joey Bada$$: At high school, but she was at a different school. I knew her through mutual friends. I was just so young and dumb. I was fantasising about her and shit. I cut school for the first time to go and see her. I guess I thought I was in love but it was young love. My relationship right after that was really serious. It's the girl I'm with today.
What high school clique were you in?
Joey Bada$$: My rap group Pro Era. We started from high school.
Who gave you your first break? Do you still talk?
Joey Bada$$: Johnny Shipes, the C.E.O of Cinematic Music Group. I put out this freestyle video four years ago and he found me from there. He's my manager now and my brother for life.
When are you most happy?
Joey Bada$$: Probably when I'm around a lot of loved ones, my family and friends.
What's your favourite American building?
Joey Bada$$: You know what, I don't think I have one. My favourite building is no buildings. My soul is a real old-timer soul so when I look at buildings I'm just like, 'Blurgh, I'm confused'! I just want to see a blade of grass and shit.
What smell do you associate with the city you were born in?
Joey Bada$$: The fucking exhaust pipes of many cars and buses because there's so many. Just so much smog.
What noise reminds you of the States?
Joey Bada$$: Lots of car horns.
What will America look like in 2050?
Joey Bada$$: New York will probably be a ghost town.
What's the best road trip you've ever been on?
Joey Bada$$: This is actually a pretty good road trip. We started in Switzerland and then we came to the UK. Then we leave tomorrow to Ireland and then to Belgium and then back home. London is always amazing and Switzerland was nice too. The energy there was just dope. Plus, it's Switzerland...who goes to Switzerland?! Not many people from where I'm from can say they've been there. It's just been lots of good vibes.
What would make you leave America forever?
Joey Bada$$: Shit, I want to leave America right now! I want to go the Caribbean Islands. I don't like America. I just don't agree with a lot of shit there. It's just unfair for young black males. The system is just set up for you to fail.
Ultimate American film?
Joey Bada$$: I like Forrest Gump and What Dreams May Come...they're just inspiring movies. I also like Fruitvale Station. You have to see it. It's so sad because it's so true. It's about the police abusing their power as always. That shit really made me cry because it can happen to any one of us. Just like that. My brother, my cousin...I'm really worried about the state of that shit.
Ultimate American album?
Joey Bada$$: Michael Jackson. Any of his albums. Just because...he is America.
What's the most overrated US tourist attraction?
Joey Bada$$: It would be extremely biased for me to say that. Because I've never experienced New York from a tourist's point of view. Only a tourist can tell you that.
How about the most underrated US tourist attraction? A place that people should go and see but no one really does?
Joey Bada$$: Ha, I'm not telling you! I like to keep the places where I chill to myself. Because like, 'No, you don't need to be there. This is not where you need to be.'
What fictional American do you most identify with?
Joey Bada$$: Power Rangers.
Favorite slang phrase?
Joey Bada$$: Oh, 'B'. Like 'what's good, B' and 'what's up, B'. I say it a lot.
If you lost it all tomorrow, what would you do the day after?
Joey Bada$$: I'd pray to be in good spirits and stay positive.
Which living American do you most admire and why?
Joey Bada$$: Myself. Because I'm trying to make a change for the future. I'm trying to be the change that I want to see in the world.
Does the American Dream still exist?
Joey Bada$$: I guess so but I don't really care...I have my own dreams.