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The dream of the '90s is alive in the hip-hop of Joey Bada$$
Retro rhymes
Joey Bada$$ wields '90s hip-hop touchstones in his sound.
Joey Bada$$ wields '90s hip-hop touchstones in his sound.

Joey Bada$$ was just 4 years old when the '90s came to a close, but you'd never guess it from listening to 1999, the solo mixtape he released last year. The recording sounds like it's plucked from the golden era of hip-hop that the gifted NYC rapper mostly heard from a child safety seat.

On April 12, Bada$$ will stop by the UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, where he'll try to impress people who remember that decade as well as hip-hop fans from his own generation. Luckily he's packed plenty of '90s touchstones into the mixtape, which are bound to grab the attention of those who watched J Dilla, Nas and A Tribe Called Quest rap their way through young adulthood.

For fans of A Tribe Called Quest
The downtempo, light-jazz jam "Snakes" instantly recalls "Electric Relaxation" off Tribe's masterpiece Midnight Marauders, particularly since it uses the same "ah-ah-ah-ah" vocal punctuation in the intro. Tribe fans who dug deep into albums of De La Soul and other Native Tongues artists will probably recognize that "Righteous Minds" uses the same sample as "Hit Me With That" off the Beatnuts' Street Level.

For fans of Nas
DJ Premier, Pete Rock and Q-Tip are all working with Bada$$ in the studio. Each of them also contributed tracks to Nas' debut, the indisputable classic Illmatic. To draw that sort of production talent, the dense, breathless and technically impressive narratives Bada$$ unleashes had to sound as brilliant as Nas' creations. Or maybe his youthful energy seems akin to that of Nas' collaborator AZ, the only guest rapper on Illmatic. Regardless, the hook Bada$$ brandishes on "Daily Routine" is just as memorable as the chorus from "Life's a Bitch."

For fans of J Dilla
The beats Bada$$ cherry-picked from J Dilla blend into 1999 so well that it's hard to notice them. In fact, the late Detroit producer's influence is all over this recording. The smooth ambience of "Waves," produced by Freddie Joachim, sounds like it could have been part of the same batch of weird soul cuts J Dilla cooked up for the Pharcyde's 1995 album, Labcabincalifornia.

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