We spoke to Joey Badass – and he threatened to kill us
We braved death threats to talk to the rapper about his new album
Whatever you do, don’t leak the Brooklyn rapper’s new album. It may cost you your life.
Hey Joey. So your new album, All-Amerikkkan Badass, is…
Don’t send it to anybody, bro.I’ll find you and kill you.
[Laughs]No, but seriously don’t send it to anyone.
Erm, I haven’t…
You don’t sound too sure. Seriously, if you send it to anyone, I’ll find you and I’ll kill you.
OK. You’d have to find me in London, though.
That won’t be hard. I’m sorry, it’s totally normal for me to threaten the writer before we start the interview. Just in case you didn’t know.
That’s OK. Really. Anyway! It’s a very political record…
It’s not though! It’s not political at all. I’m not talking about Democrats or Republicans. I hate politics.
Donald Trump’s name crops up a few times, though…
Just because I mention Donald Trump doesn’t mean it’s political. How many times do you hear his name a day? It’s often nothing to do with politics.
So what themes do you touch on?
I touch on the state of the country; the state of where we are in the world right now; human beings from the perspective of my race and my place in the country. But it’s really not about me though. I’m standing in the middle, observing everything around me. This is one of the most corrupted countries in the history of the world. That’s why I replaced the ‘C’ in America with ‘KKK’ on this album. To expose that corrupt side.
From your lyrics it’s clear you’re well-schooled in African-American history. What books are you reading?
When I was making the album I was more inspired by lectures than books. If I had to name two, though, it’d be The Autobiography of Malcolm X and The Philosophy & Opinions of Marcus Garvey.
You were an aspiring actor at high school. What was your greatest role?
I only did two plays before they kicked me out of drama. Every role I had was something shit. But it’s all good because now I play Leon in Mr Robot!
Mr Robot is about conspiracy theories and cyber-attacks. Has that influenced your thinking at all?
No. I actually think my thinking influenced the show.
I’m just fucking with you. I’m not that deep.
Your character loves Seinfeld. Did you have to watch some to prepare?
It’s a pretty cool show. Pretty funny. If you really want to know, all I did was go on YouTube and watch some clips. I didn’t even really watch it. Yeah I know, I suck.
Your hip-hop collective Pro Era has its own clothing line. What are your plans for it?
Colourful and conscious – that’s how the clothes will look, anyway.
Malia Obama wore a Pro Era T-shirt recently…
That was like two years ago.
...is it true that the secret service followed you afterwards?
Yeah bro. It’s so true.
What actually happened?
They followed me, bro. Did you read the article?
I did. There was a tree by your home that suddenly disappeared? Is that right?
Yeah, yeah. Like lightning [laughs].
So the Secret Service actually cut down a tree down to surveil you?
Shit, I don’t know. Who said that?
You did. In the New York Post.
Shit, they probably did do that. That makes a lot of sense.
Was it nice to find out an Obama was a fan?
It wasn’t actually too surprising because the music I make is real music. So I’d expect real people like the Obamas to dig it. I would’ve appreciated President Obama shouting me out or something, but it’s all good, he’s still lit.
How would you feel if one of the Trumps listened to your music?
There are a lot of white people at a Joey Badass show, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Donald Trump Jr listened to ‘Survival Tactics’. I’d be like, ‘Great, it’s some extra streams.’ I don’t care if it’s from some douchebag. I’m enjoying this interview.
Yeah. I know it sounds like I’m not, I’m just in mad traffic and shit. New York City traffic is really frustrating.
Where are you?
I’m on the Manhattan Bridge about to do 95. Actually 120. So make it snappy! Oh shit it’s the police...
OK, why has Brooklyn produced so many great rappers?
Erm, I think it’s the air. I think it’s the shit that they spray over the city. It be having us on edge and then we just get mad good.
Great, thanks Joey. I promise not to send the album to anyone.
Please don’t. Remember, I will find you.
I know you will.
All-Amerikkkan Badass by Joey Badass is out 7 April