"Summer Knights" is the third mixtape released by New York emcee Joey Badass. The mixtape features guest appearances from Collie Buddz, T'nah Apex and the whole Pro Era crew as well as production by Alchemist, Lee Bannon, Statik Selektah, MF DOOM, Oddisee and others. It was released on July 1, 2013.
1) Alowha - The mixtape kicks off with a short interlude before the first song actually begins. The beat, by Kirk Knight, has a nice throwback feel to it, but updated for modern times. Joey Badass is spitting a bit more aggressive than I remember him sounding in the past, changing up his voice a sound a little more raspier than usual. Still, this is really dope. Off to a good start so far.
2) Hilary $wank - The beat on this song, courtesy of Lee Bannon, is a bit more energetic than the previous song and has some upbeat drums and horns that come in occasionally to give it a slightly jazzy feel. Joey Badass's voice is back to how I remember it and he flows smoothly over the instrumental. I'm feelin this track.
3) My Yout (featuring Collie Buddz) - The moment I saw that this track had a Collie Buddz feature I knew the song would have a reggae feel to it, which it does. The beat, by Chuck Strangers, has a smooth synth with a random air horn here or there over some reggae drums. I haven't heard a Collie Buddz feature in years but he sounds pretty good on here. This song is good, but not my favorite so far.
4) Death of YOLO (featuring Smoke DZA) - The beat on this track is provided by Bruce Leekix, who's name puts a smile on my face similar to when I see a tracklisting or guest feature from Alabama rapper Jackie Chain. The instrumental is dope, with some harder boom-bap drums and a bit of a darker feel than the previous few songs. Despite this, the beat is smooth and Joey rips it. Even Smoke DZA comes correct. Dope.
5) Right on Time (featuring T’nah Apex) - Kirk Knight returns with a chill piano instrumental that is really beautiful. Joey Badass spits about his chick while guest T'nah Apex provides a lovely chorus. This is actually really good. Nice.
6) Sweet Dreams - Being a big fan of mid-90s rap, this is exactly the type of beat I have been waiting for. The instrumental, by Navie D, has some hard boom-bap drums and a dope old school hip-hop sample. Joey is really spitting on this track, but the chorus sums up the topic and feel of the song nicely.
"Sweet dreams, stuck in the 90'sThis song is really ill and is probably my favorite so far.
90's babies a matter of timing
And time's not rewinding..."
7) 47goonz (featuring Dirty Sanchez and Nyck Caution) - Lee Bannon returns with a head-nodding boom-bap banger and Joey Badass, Dirty Sanchez and Nyck Caution all rip it. I know this sample from somewhere but I can't place it. That's gonna drive me nuts until I can think of it. Oh well, this song is really good. Another banger.
8) Word Is Bond - The last few tracks have been really good, but this one is the best yet. The beat, by Statik Selektah, has an ill little piano loop with some hard boom-bap drums. It honestly reminds me of something that could have been on "Reasonable Doubt", with its somber keys and sick scratching on the chorus. Joey spits pretty well on here. It's nothing amazing lyrically, but his flow and mic presence are on point. I mean there are a few clever lines here or there but its nothing mind blowing. Regardless, this song is absolute fire.
9) Sit N’ Prey (featuring Dessy Hinds and T’nah Apex) - Navie D comes through with yet another banger. As usual, the beat has a nice 90's feel to it and features some textured samples over gutter drums. Joey Badass and Dessy Hinds both destroy the beat while T'nah Apex doesn't really come in until way at the end. Very nice.
10) Trap Door - The beat on this track is by my favorite rap producer of the year so far, The Alchemist. The beat is laid-back with some cinematic strings and booming bass drums. Joey raps with a slower flow to match the instrumental and spits a street story about a chick. Dope shit.
11) Satellite (featuring Chuck Strangers, Kirk Knight and Dessy Hinds) - The instrumental on this track, by Lee Bannon, is giving me flashbacks of a mid-90s RZA beat, which is a good thing. The beat is dark and yet beautiful at the same time with what sounds like a guitar distorted with a tremolo effect to give it that wavy feel. Everyone on the track comes correct and spits about getting high, drunk, etc. This is actually really dope.
12) 95 Til Infinity - Lee Bannon comes through with a low-fi instrumental that sounds like a slowed down version of Black Moons classic "Buck Em Down" to me, but then layers it underneath some chimes and a female vocal sample. As he has on a few tracks previously, Joey Badass changes up his voice and flow to sound a bit more aggressive on this track.
"Roots of all evil, the highest stars, Evel KnievelThe lyrics are on point, but it took me a few listens to get used to his voice and flow on here. Still, this song is very dope.
I see through peoples door
The world may never know how my third pupil show
Incognito and cold needles flow
And I don't throw subs, I throw torpedoes
The Don, not Cheadle
This don got a Cornelius fro"
13) Amethyst Rockstar (featuring Kirk Knight) - MF DOOM gave Joey Badass a banger with this one. The beat is typical DOOM, which is a very good thing, and both Joey and Kirk Knight rip it. Joey sets it off nicely.
"When did rap turn into a fashion show?Before Kirk Knight comes in and shuts it down.
Too many makeup artists won't let their passion show
The anti-social mogul, having 20/20 visions
In need of bifocals for your eyes, dilated ojos"
"How is hip-hop dead? I'm still making a killinVery nice.
Banana clip peelin and ho's I'm still stealin"
14) Reign - Chuck Strangers returns with an upbeat, spacey instrumental for Joey to get busy over. The beat is a sharp departure from the boom-bap beats so prevalent throughout the rest of the mixtape, but its still pretty dope. Joey spits about gaining fame, how things have changed in the past year and how when it rains, it pours. This is pretty good.
15) Sorry Bonita (featuring Dyemond Lewis, Chuck Strangers, Dirty Sanchez, A La Sole, Kirk Knight, Dessy Hinds and CJ Fly) - Mellow Music Group's Oddisee comes through with a lighthearted, jazzy banger for the Pro Era crew to destroy. These kids definitely have skills and I look forward to hearing more material from all of them in the future. Too bad Capital Steez doesn't have a posthumous verse on here, but that's for the next song.
16) #LongLiveSteelo - The last track on the mixtape is Joey's dedication to Capital Steez, who passed away in December of 2012. The beat, by Kirk Knight, is somber and meshes perfectly with Joey's retrospective and heartfelt lyrics. At certain times in the song you can really hear the pain in his voice over losing his close friend and fellow emcee. Dope song. RIP Capital Steez.
17) Unorthodox (Bonus track) - I always thought that this track was going to be on Joey's debut album, but it ended up as a bonus track for this mixtape instead. I'm definitely not complaining though because this song is a banger. Joey Badass teams up with the legendary DJ Premier and the end result is absolute fire. The beat is classic Primo and Joey spits with his usual bravado. Very dope track.
I'm going to rate the mixtape
3.75 / 5
because its pretty strong the whole way through. I'm not feeling a few of the tracks as much as the others, but there are no tracks on here that are unlistenable for me. The beats are banging for the most part and Joey Badass (and guests) comes correct on all of them. Despite all this, I think this mixtape is a little bit weaker than "1999" on first listen, but we'll see how it stands up during repeated listens. You can download the mixtape for free over at LiveMixTapes or DatPiff.