1999

by Joey Bada$$

Released June 12, 2012 via Cinematic Music Group

Reviewed August 1, 2022

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Survival Tactics (81%), Waves (50%), Hardknock (36%)

Before he could legally buy cigarettes, Joey Bada$$ dropped the legendary mixtape, 1999. For the last 10 years, this tape has continued to impress. The gritty, New York production style beautifully integrates boom-bap drums and artful samples. Every beat takes you on a cinematic journey as Joey delivers bars beyond his years; mechanically, he was lightyears ahead of his peers. He even spits punchlines about punchlines (“these ain’t even punchlines anymore, I’m abusing tracks”), and I don’t think we really appreciate how dope it was that in one metaphor he equates the US political atmosphere to Yu-Gi-Oh. The nostalgic factor, combined with the introspection & self-awareness, is truly what makes this tape special. Joey takes samples from everywhere, including the classic cartoon Pinky and the Brain on “World Domination.” 1999’s composure—particularly across Joey’s delivery—reflects his short past, while looking ahead and imagining what his future would hold. Joey let the world know that age is no excuse to lack quality. From fifteen songs and about an hour of play time, 1999 will go down as one of the best mixtapes to grace our ears. – Daniel (9.8/10)


Joey's—and with it, Pro Era's—introduction to the hip-hop hemisphere came under the guise of a boom-bap infatuation, 60 minutes presenting the future atop of the forever. To begin, you must pay back what has brought you forth: influence in sound and surroundings that forever debt the soul. The nineties are often regarded as a major part of the golden age of hip-hop, an era of ever-edging street feats and cultural propellants. To see a mere seventeen-year-old do the sound and style justice served as a breath of fresh air to those who had somewhat given up on the scene. Sometimes, things have to be brought back to square one in order to be brought forward. Pulling back offers a perspective that taking part in contemporary affairs can never offer: bigger pictures and broader points of view. Far from the first, but maybe the most refreshing burst of sweet nostalgia. – Peter (8/10)


Born too late to see the first half of the decade but born early enough to revel in its immediate residuals, Joey Bada$$ was the very kid every seventeen year-old fan of this tape deeply wished to be. Titled after the style it aims to replicate, Joey raps over fragile, slick, jangly soul keys and rough drums, dirtier and more organic than the squeaky-clean hi-hats that would become a staple as the 2010s progressed. He borrows from noughties staples like DOOM’s Special Herbs or Dilla’s “Alien Family,” accentuating the 1999’s mostly lo-fi style, innovated by the likes of Digable Planets. Joey is a traditionalist, so while at the time there was a slow but steady emergence of vocalists prioritising timbre over lyricism, Joey dug deeper into the poetry that Brooklyn was known for. Bars like “smoking on the clematis, get opened like a present is / now your presence is on the premises for them presidents,” from “Hardknock,” are similarly multi-entendre, phonetically expressive, and tell a story. Longtime collaborator and close friend Capital STEEZ closes out his verse on “Killuminati” with some of the most complex and deeply personal wordplay I’ve ever heard. 1999 could’ve had a wider impact if it wasn’t swallowed up by fresher, evolved takes on hip-hop, but it certainly consolidates Brooklyn’s sound in the 21st century. – Cam (7.3/10)


Daniel: 9.8/10 | DeVán: 8.5/10 | Dominick: 8.5/10 | Peter: 8/10

Pax: 7.9/10 | Hadley: 7.5/10 | Cam: 7.3/10 | Jared: 7/10

 
Community Reviews:

It has its weak spots and non memorable songs, but overall, it contains several classic and iconic tracks, and I have to respect what it did for the people listening to this at the time of its release and for the people listening now. – @zain.guthrie (7.5/10)