Joey Bada$$ and his Pro Era crew have been hard at work over the past year, dropping three mixtapes—Joey's Summer Knights, CJ Fly's Thee Way Eye See It and the crew's The Secc$ Tap.e 2—and generally building on the success of Joey's breakout 1999 mixtape and the crew's introductory PEEP: The aPROcalypse in 2012. Today the crew is back with a five-track EP released with Scion AV called The Shift, highlighting the growth that the Brooklyn rhymers and producers have made in the two years since they've been thrust into hip-hop's spotlight.

Over that time period, Pro Era has gone through a number of changes, most notably the loss of the influential Capital STEEZ to a reported suicide in December of 2012. But the young Flatbush collective has also grown in other ways, with more reps under their belts and the emergence of legitimate talents who can stand alongside Joey as individual artists in their own right. The first two songs they dropped from The Shift—"Hail Razor" featuring A La $ole, Dessy Hinds and CJ Fly, and "Extortion" featuring Kirk Knight and Dyemond Lewis—showcase that progression, with some of Pro Era's lesser-known spitters grabbing the spotlight with a vigor that promises big things to come.

Ahead of the release of The Shift, which can be streamed below, and with his own debut album, B4.Da.$$, on deck for the FallXXL spoke to Joey Bada$$ about the EP, his upcoming album, and the progression of Pro Era. Up next? World domination. —Dan Rys

joey badass

XXL: How long have you guys been working on The Shift EP?
Joey Bada$$: The Shift is near, bro. We've been working on it since we were born. [Laughs] I mean, it's a five track EP with that real afro funk shit, and yeah. There's no samples, there's no fuckin' cursing, 'cause Scion wanted to do whatever shit they do.

No fuckin' cursing.
Yeah, no fuckin' cursing. [Laughs] But yeah, it's just a little thing to give out to our fans just to let them know that we're still working. Just a little five-track EP, just to keep everybody's tummy's satisfied. 'Cause we coming, we've been working hard, and there's way more greater things that we're working on, and way more greater things to come.

Was it all produced in-house?
Yeah, it was all produced in-house. Two Kirk Knight beats, one Rokamouth beat, one Powers beat, and the only beat that actually wasn't in-house was "Hail Razor," that was produced by Backpack. But, he's pretty much extended fam of Pro Era, so we were like, ah, what the heck.

Are there any guests outside Pro Era?
Nah, nah, it's just the crew, just the crew.

Anything on there that stands out to you?
Definitely "Extortion," that dropped and the video is coming soon. "Hail Razor," that dropped, me and Nyck [Caution] got a good joint on there. I won't tell you all the spots.

pro era the shift cover

How do you feel like you and the crew have progressed since the first Secc$ tape?
Oh, man, well we've definitely, you know, strength in numbers, if you know what I mean. As time goes on, people grow with each other, people learn with each other and from each other, so there's various ways like such that we have grown. We've definitely been getting tighter and everything. Because as time goes on and with us being so young, there's a lot of things we were oblivious to or just didn't understand. But now we're all coming to a mutual meeting point. It was like, yo, we gotta tighten up on this, you gotta get tight on that, we gotta get straight on this, you feel me? When longevity comes into the picture, you gotta make sure that your ship is always tight.

Who do you think has grown the most, from the rapping side or the production side?
I'd say—oh look at him, he just walked in—I'd say Kirk Knight. There was a point where he was the youngest in the crew and everything, and there was a point where he wasn't really rappin' like that and shit. And then he just started rappin' and he used to look at me and Steez for support and shit like that, and he just got his shit up. He went beast mode on the beats, he reached a level of fuckin' flawlessness on the beats, and now look at him, he's an MC slayer. [Laughs] So I'd say that Kirk has grown the most on the crew.

That "Extortion" track he put out with Dyemond Lewis was fire, man.
Yeah, thank you, I can't wait 'til you guys all hear the dirty version and get that for download and then see this video, this video is fuckin' crack.

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There are other Pro Era solo projects coming out too, right?
Yeah, Kirk and Nyck are definitely the next two Pros to step up, so be on the lookout for them a lot the rest of this year and the next. It's fuckin' fire. That's why I'm so excited, 'cause what's about to come out of this camp is just so fuckin' great. My album, Kirk's album, Nyck's album, you know? And I say all albums, because that's what it is, that's the effort that we put into it. No matter if they're free or sold, you feel me, they're all albums.

Do you feel like with 1999 and PEEP: The aPROcalypse getting the attention and the spotlight on you guys, that it all came a little too quick, and that there's an element of you guys just now being ready for it?
Nah. Well, some things... I guess you can say that in a way, but in reality, everything comes in the time it's supposed to. It probably didn't come too quick, we probably didn't move quick enough, you feel me? Because with this world we're living in, I believe that everything comes when it's supposed to. Everything is right on time, all the time.

And you know I gotta ask you about the album. How are things coming along?
Everything is coming along amazing, bro, word up. I couldn't ask for a better team around me, I couldn't ask for better support. Shit, I couldn't ask for a better brain. [Laughs] I couldn't ask for a better heart, better spirit, a better universe; everything is just coming into play exactly how I want it to. And I just gotta take my time on it, bro, 'cause it's not ready until I say it's ready. This is my baby, this is my first album, this is my first child. [Laughs] Word up.

joey badass

Previously: XXL Freshmen 2013 Report Card
Pro Era Family Tree: Meet The Brooklyn Hip-Hop Crew Spearheaded By Joey Bada$$
Interview: Joey Bada$$ Talks New Album And His Biggest Influences
Joey Bada$$ & Pro Era’s Track By Track Breakdown of 1999