Hear the Joey Bada$$ acapella for ‘Land of the Free’
(Credit: Jorund Foreland Pedersen)

Old School Archives

Hear the Joey Bada$$ acapella for 'Land of the Free'

Joey Bada$$ is one of New York’s most underrated emcees and has been on hip-hop’s radar since the early-2010s. Born and raised in the East Flatbush area of Brooklyn, the musician (real name Jo-Vaughn Scott) first surfaced alongside his late musical companion Capital Steez as one of the most skilful lyricists on the New York-based record label Cinematic.

As an independent artist and incredible young talent, Scott, alongside figures such as A$AP Rocky and Azealia Banks, was one of the primary rappers putting New York back on the map in 2012. Scott’s debut project came in the form of his debut mixtape, 1999. Although the project was received well and critically acclaimed by publications, in 2012, most people’s eyes and ears were firmly on Atlanta and the South. With so much talent, hip-hop tastemakers quickly discarded Scott’s quality material upon the arrival of trap music, fascinated by the latest musical fad.

Bada$$ produced many exceptional songs, such as ‘Waves’ and ‘Summer Knights.’ However, they were unfairly and all too quickly dismissed by the culture. As trap and its derivatives, such as drill, would prosper and become the new sound of hip hop, Joey Bada$$, with his J Dilla style instrumentals, cultivated a cult following and stayed true to himself artistically on the underground in the shadow of prominent southern trap artists such as Future, Young Thug and Lil Yachty.

Nevertheless, Scott continued to release music. In 2015, the Brooklyn act released his debut album, B4.Da.$$. The project saw contributions from classic hip-hop acts such as DJ Premier and The Roots and was a landmark body of work for the emcee. As fans began to distance themselves from the frivolous shambles of mumble rap, the culture steadily began warming to Scott’s highly profound material. In April 2017, the rapper released All-Amerikkkan Bada$$. It would peak at number five on the Billboard Hot 200 and also five on the UK Album Charts.  

The project’s second single, ‘Land Of The Free’ was one of the album’s highlights. Produced by Kirk Knight and Adam Pallin of Bada$$’s Pro Era collective, the song speaks on the political state of the US. WIth lines such as “Sorry, America, but I will not be your soldier. Obama just wasn’t enough – I need some more closure.” The song’s music video was directed by Bada$$ and features controversial and inflammatory images such as Ku Klux Klan members standing before a burning cross. You can hear the acapella and watch the visuals in the videos below.