Rap critics have anointed Joey Bada$$ the savior of New York-style boom-bap rap, so it was only a matter of time before the father and the son collaborated to create some holy spirits. Forty-six-year-old DJ Premier — one of the greatest boom-bap DJs ever — produced the pensive, piano-driven beat for “Unorthodox” that the 18-year-old Bada$$ raps over with precocious confidence.
The world-weariness evident in “Unorthodox” would seem overdramatic for most teens, but Bada$$ has a lot on his plate. Barely 18, the Brooklynite has been featured on every reputable rap blog, has performed on “Jimmy Fallon” and, tragically, lost one of his best friends and collaborators to an apparent suicide.
Bada$$’s vocals begin a little shaky, and he doesn’t match up with the beat exactly, but as he raps disillusioned rhymes over a simple beat, he becomes more confident and showcases the combo of rhythm and lyricism that could catapult him from “best kept secret” to “best new artist.”