Joey Badass is only 20, but for years he’s been compared to legends like The Notorious BIG and Nas. He doesn’t really care, all he wants is to make revolutionary hip hop, but he is totally uninterested in revolutions. We sat down with him for ten minutes just before his gig at Balaton Sound to talk about philosophers, the Brooklyn Nets, and he even told us whether he likes Kanye West or not.

Joey Badass is quite the character – nothing drives this point home more than the fact that he likes to stylize his name as Bada$$, and the wild stories circulating about him. The altercation at Falls Festival in Australia, for example, where – despite being one of the performers – he broke the nose of a security guard. Two minutes after sitting down to make the interview, he says: “I’m my own role model.”

At first, it sounds like an obnoxious claim, but the next minute he starts praising his contemporaries: “Kanye is the best performer in the world today, man. No doubt about it. I respect him very much.” Following on from that, I ask him about another high-profile rapper. “Lil Wayne is great too. He’s the best featured artist in the world.” To the question whether they’re going to collaborate in the future, he replies with a confident yes, but when I ask him when, all he says is “soon”.

Badass’ career took off at age 17 with the mixtape 1999, which generated quite a bit of buzz, not only among music critics. In 2012 there was talk of him being signed by Jay-Z’s label, but instead he teamed up with his schoolmates from Brooklyn to found their own collective called Pro Era. They ended up choosing a logo reminiscent of a swastika, but they say all they did was mash a 4 and a 7 together, and they don’t mean to upset anyone.

His first studio album (B4.DA.$$, meaning Before da money) came out this January, and sold 58,000 copies in the first week. He considers the Brooklyn of the 90s to be the golden age of hip hop; even at a young age he listened to performers like The Notorious BIG or Nas, so it’s no coincidence that the press likes to compare him to them.

With his lyrics, he often criticizes the machine, and everything else he can think of, be it the police, the state or corrupt politicians on Wall Street, which begs the question: what kind of change is he trying to promote? Apart from “you don’t have to promote anything, lots of changes are happening in the world today”, he doesn’t have anything further to add; he actually says he wants to move on from this issue.

Then I ask him about the thing that made him famous in Washington: this January, a picture of Obama’s daughter wearing a Pro Era T-shirt popped up on Instagram. The only problem was that the image came out through Pro Era, so the White House launched an investigation to find out how an outside person got a hold of a personal photo of the president’s family. It seems that Joey couldn’t care less about the incident, all he says with a laugh is: “I don’t know what to tell you, I don’t know how we got the picture.” Yet, it was revealed earlier that Malia Obama is friends with someone associated with the Pro Era collective, and that person was involved in leaking the photo on Instagram.

Then we start talking about his T-shirt that has Malcolm X on it – he says his autobiography was the last book he read. After reading the book, he realized that history in America keeps repeating itself, and the country is plagued by the same problems nowadays as in the 50s and 60s. He probably means the riots in Baltimore and Ferguson, but he doesn’t want to talk about that either.

He is much more forthcoming about his interest in philosophy: it’s a well-known fact that he likes reading various philosophers. He mentions Socrates and Confucius as his favourites, but he thinks hip hop conveys a kind of philosophy as well: “Rap is a philosophy that hits you at 90 mph.” When you consider that he used to toy with the idea of becoming an actor, it is hardly surprising how carefree and well structured his shows are – his music features drum n bass and dubstep elements, as well as his trademark, meaningful lyrics that make you wonder.

It is kind of surprising by comparison how he almost talks like Coelho about the people he wants to reach out to with his music: “I want to give people, but mainly young, black kids, a positive outlook on the future, and I want to inspire them to follow their dreams."