Joey Badass: How hip-hop is evolving in the age of Trump

Joey Badass talks hip-hop in the age of Trump
Joey Badass talks hip-hop in the age of Trump

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Joey Badass talks hip-hop in the age of Trump 02:06

Story highlights

  • "ALL-AMERIKKKAN Bada$$" is the rapper's sophomore studio album
  • It includes songs like "Land of the Free" and "Devastated"

New York (CNN)Joey Badass takes politics head on in his latest album, "All Amerikkan Bada$$," a bold, free-flowing critique of race and racism in America that touches on white supremacy, mass incarceration, police brutality and includes the rapper's own reflections on being a black man in America in the age of President Donald Trump.

The 12-track album, which was released last Friday, includes songs like the "Land of the Free," "Amerikkan Idol," "Rockabye Baby" featuring ScHoolboy Q, and "Legendary," featuring J. Cole. All of the tracks offer nuanced critiques of the American political establishment, from the media, to Congress, the White House and institutionalized racism.
    CNN caught up with the Brooklyn rapper in New York City last week, where he reflected on what inspired his own music and why more artists are embracing hip-hop's political roots in the era of Trump.

    CNN: What inspired your latest album, "All Amerikkan Bada$$"?

    Joey: "What I would say it's most inspired by is the current climate we're experiencing today in our country. And over the last couple of years I feel like I discovered different parts of myself just through the creating and making of this project. One of those parts were that I feel like I really understand now why I am here, what is my sole purpose on this earth ... Long story short, the album is really not about me. It's about us. It's about everything we got going on and everything we're currently experiencing right now."

    CNN: You previously told CNN that the rise of Trump led to a positive shift in hip-hop. How has it manifested?

    Joey: "I definitely feel like hip-hop is going through a change right now ... a lot of musicians are realizing and stepping up to the plate and you know, almost accepting their responsibility, like OK, we are the leaders of the people. We are the voices. We speak for all of these people ... I definitely think it's a change for the better and is definitely the silver lining in the gray cloud of everything that's happening in our current political climate, if you will."

    CNN: Are others in the industry also noticing a change?

    Joey: "I know me and my brother, Rory, have been talking about similar things for the last two years and what we can do with our platforms and our voices to make an impact. My brother, Chance The Rapper, he's pushing the culture forward in that way ... I think that's beautiful. Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole ... The energy right now is pretty much circulating throughout the whole industry and I think everybody is definitely feeling the vibe over each other based on where we are right now as a country, as a culture."

    CNN: Why did this shift come now?

    Joey: "For me, the shift was in the overall awakening of just the mass consciousness ... The shift begins with all of us coming to the point where we're realizing that OK, this is not right ... Different ways of going about it and to unite and come together and really make peace. I don't mean for it to sound cliché or anything but that's the shift that I identity with, that's the shift that I'm in tune with. I'm definitely here to bring a positive impact to the world, undeniably."

    CNN: You use 'KKK' as a symbol throughout your album. What does white supremacy mean to you?

    Joey Badass reflects on racism, white supremacy
    exp joey badass new album white supremacy_00004013

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      Joey Badass reflects on racism, white supremacy

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    Joey Badass reflects on racism, white supremacy 01:15
    Joey: "Today, in 2017, white supremacy means -- because it's harder I guess to see now today as it was before, not really to me -- to me it means privilege, it means prejudice, it means bigotry. It doesn't necessarily mean KKK to me. My usage of the KKK in the album is more of a symbol that these people are still here and to this point, they're not as visible. That's why in 'The Land of the Free' video I had the KKK unmask themselves and reveal themselves as police officers or reveal themselves as a judge or a priest."