WORDS

Bed Stuy in North Central Brooklyn is a place where heritage is impossible to ignore. In the 1930s, African American families left an overcrowded Harlem for the better housing availability of the downtown neighbourhood, where the wooden homes were replaced with affordable brownstone rowhouses.

Decades later, the grandchildren of those first residents would play a pivotal role within a culture which played hip-hop and RnB at block parties and from car radio speakers, cementing Bed Stuy’s musical legacy. It was a golden era that introduced Lil Kim to Biggie Smalls; the community that brought Mos Def to Talib Kweli. Aaliyah, Jay Z and Ol’ Dirty Bastard were also among the legends who grew up in the neighbourhood. Whether it’s street corner freestyles or backyard cookouts, the world recognises that this place has a history to be proud of.

Balancing revivalism and forward-thinking ideals effortlessly, 19-year-old Joey Bada$$ is part of the community’s new school. His circa-94 flow and youthful approach has won him fans in both old-school purists and enthused teenagers. Along with his Pro Era collective, Joey presents himself with the style of a seasoned pro and the spirit of a ninth grader who can’t stop listening to Ready To Die.

Spending days in the roasting heat skating along sidewalks and winding down to the sounds of MCs from bygone years, the group have cultivated a look that channels youthful exuberance with a 21st century mindset. Bada$$ embraces major streetwear brands of the here-and-now but sports them with thrift store finds to personify his rationale of reintroducing older sounds by juxtaposing them with cutting-edge hallmarks.

We met Joey in London and rifled through a few rails with him. With the help of stylist Tom Rasmussen and photographer Tom Johnson, Crack put together this very special Aesthetic shoot. We also spoke to him about the brands he’s into, New York and the definition of the term ‘Swank’. From our conversation, it’s clear that the signature youthfulness which Bada$$ carries runs through his attitude to both music and style.

Describe your personal style.

There’s only one word to describe my style, and that word is “SWANK”. Swank to me means elegant and unique style. Street sense with a lil’ added spizazzzzz. That’s me all the way.

What labels and brands are you feeling right now?

My Pro Era brand about to be on some other shit and you’ll be hearing about it real soon. Right now I’m really feeling Bape, Billionaire Boys Club, 10 Deep and a lot of vintage clothes.

Did you enjoy the photo shoot you did with us? Which clothes were your favourite?

Yeah it was a great shoot, I liked the stylist and photographer’s vibe. I felt like they got me and my style. It was cool to mix up my clothes with what they pulled. I like the yellow jacket.

Do you have an all time favourite brand and sneaker? If so, what is it?

G-star jeans and for sneakers, Jordan’s.

If you’ve got some time off from touring, what would your ideal day in New York be like?

Definitely hanging with friends and riding my bike, keeping it real chill.

Can you tell us about the philosophy of your Pro Era crew – what do you stand for?

We stand for the progression and positivity of the youth.

Where do you find style inspiration? Would you say you draw from the same 90s New York references that you do in your music?

I would say some inspiration comes from NY 90s references from my music. I mix the old with the new.

A lot of rappers are experimenting with high fashion these days, would you describe your look as classic hip-hop style?

I wear whatever makes me feel comfortable, I don’t like to follow trends. I create my own in a unique manner.

Photography: Tom Johnson
Photography Assistant: Gwenaelle Trannoy
Stylist: Tom Rasmussen
Assistant Stylist: Hatty Carman

Joey’s debut album B4.DA.$$ is out now via Relentless Records

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