In April 2017, Joey Badass released his album All-Amerikkkan Badass which features the popular protest song “Temptation.” Throughout the time period leading up to the release of this song and album, Joey Badass was not shy from expressing his concerns regarding the 2016 election. In fact, Medium released an article entitled “Joey Bada$$- Temptation: Statement of Resistance” that explains, “He talked to reporters after the 2016 election about how helpless he felt as an individual, seeing society take a drastically negative turn in his eyes, so All-AmeriKKKan Bada$$, in which Temptation is track three, was his outlet to cry out against a broken system” (Wilson). This very eloquently discusses the context in which Joey Badass created this album, as well as how his song “Temptation” can be identified as a direct effort of protest against America’s social systems. Additionally, Joey Badass begins the song with a sample of nine year old Zianna Oliphant giving a speech at Charlotte’s City Hall. The context behind this speech was that it was a direct response to the killing of Keith Lamont Scott, a 43 year old who was fatally shot by police officers in September of 2016. During Oliphant’s speech, she says “I feel like that we are treated differently than other people. And I don’t like how we’re treated. Just because of our color doesn’t mean anything to me.” This part of the speech is directly sampled in the beginning of Badass’s song, and it is a quite moving way to introduce the subject matter of his song. The initial message behind Oliphant’s speech continues throughout the duration of the song, where Badass goes on to consider the issues that he has seen plague the Black community over time. 

Given the fact that modern day rappers are not afraid to directly call out injustice in society, it is no surprise that Badass utilizes his own music to do just that. In many ways, Joey Badass and his music can be considered East Coast Hip Hop Progressive Rap. Essentially, progressive rap or hip hop is described as “a broad subgenre of hip hop music that aims to progress the genre thematically with socially transformative ideas” ( As seen within that definition, progressive rap and hip hop aims to push the boundaries of societal norms, and ignite real change amongst listeners, which is why Badass’s “Temptation” can be identified as one of the best examples of this said genre. In many ways, Progressive Rap embodies the same ideas as Protest music in general, and given the context of Joey Badass’s music one can approach this album and song with that framework in mind. 

In terms of actual social critique, the songwriters for “Temptation” which include Adam Pallin, Kirk Knight and Joey Badass himself, are not afraid to call it how it is within their lyrics. To begin, the lyrics read, “Uh, uh, tell me how we gon’ shape this vision, Complainin’ all day, but in the same condition, if you wanna make change it’s gon’ take commitment, some people enslaved by they religion.” These lyrics written by Pallin, Knight and Badass serve as a call to action for members of the Black community in America. In order to obtain real significant change, Badass asks his brothers and sisters to stand up to these issues, and to do more than rely on structures like religion, which can unfortunately be inherently corrupt. These lyrics illustrate the importance of the entire Black community coming together as a unified whole in order to fight to free themselves from the oppressive nature in which some of the structures in America were founded upon. Although Badass is not dismissing God and religion in itself, he is warning members of the Black community of the way certain structures can be unintentionally corrupt within this country purely because of the way in which they were initially created. Furthermore, Badass, Pallin and Knight write, “We are black people and we shouldn’t have to feel like this. We shouldn’t have to protest because y’all are treating us wrong. We do this because we need to and we have rights.” These last couple lines of lyrics which bring the song to a close, hammer home the idea that Badass is echoing throughout the entire song. This song emphasizes the idea that elements of American society are calling for resistance from the oppressed Black community. Badass in turn, calls for the audience to fight for a better life for Black Americans, specifically through the continued efforts of protest. 

Natalie Nevins