1999 was a rough year for East Coast rap: Bad Boy Records floundered in the wake of Puff Daddy’s dud of a second album, Ma$e retired from the game unexpectedly early to follow a Christian calling, and talented Big L was murdered just blocks from his home. Now, 13 years later, we’re back in 1999 — only this time, it’s the debut mixtape from Joey Bada$$, a 17-year old rapper from Brooklyn who steeps his sound in the hearty, break-heavy beats of the 90s. Bada$$ may still be in high school (“Fuck trigonometry!” he sneers on FromdaTomb$), but his flow is startlingly mature, recalling A1 or perhaps even a young Nas. The top-notch production from DOOM and Freddie Joachim provides the perfect canvas for the MC to show his skills — deft syllabic switcheroos, hazy stoner pontifications, and plenty of nostalgia.
• Joey Bada$$ - http://badassjoey.tumblr.com