Wolfacejoeyy has mastered the sexy drill singalong

With his new album Valentino out today, the Staten Island rapper reflects on positive energy, meticulous craftsmanship, and drunk bowling.

May 15, 2024
Wolfacejoeyy has mastered the sexy drill singalong Wolfacejoeyy. Photo by Luca Marie. Styled by Uma Natalia and Luca Marie.  

Wolfacejoeyy has to hand it to his mother. “My mom always told me, ‘You know you can sing right?’” the Staten Island rapper says. “I’m like, ‘Why are you telling me this? If I could sing I would know.’ Then I started recording music and I was like, ‘Hold on. Wait, I can like, actually sing.’” Initially a producer for artists like SoFayGo and Dom Corleo, Wolfacejoeyy (born Joseph Badejo) started rapping when the SoundCloud scene grew stale and unexciting. But underground rap wasn’t what Mama Joeyy wanted to hear from her son: “She always told me, ‘You have to make music that people can dance to.’ And at first I was like, ‘Man, I’m trying to be the next Carti! Leave me alone,’” he laughs. But the idea eventually stuck. “When ‘SHAKE IT’ came out and I played it for her, she was like, ‘See? I told you!’”

Originally an On The Radar freestyle, “SHAKE IT” blended Joeyy’s delicately melodic flow with an insistent club beat courtesy of producer Whereis22, a.k.a. fellow Staten Islander Michael Rainey Jr. (best known as Tariq from Power). The duo took this formula and ran with it on 2023’s 22Joeyy, which Joeyy describes as “an evolved version” of the same sound. On that nine-song EP, the raw materials of Joeyy’s music were coming into focus: not just the penchant for PG-13 sleaze, but the melodies and vocal control. Although you can hear fragments of plugg and trap in some of his older work, like 2022’s all your fault, 22Joeyy fully embraced the sound of sexy drill; when founding fathers Cash Cobain and Chow Lee show up on “Weekend,” it feels like mutual acknowledgment.


Wolfacejoeyy is more than aware of how the success of Cobain and Lee’s 2 SLIZZY 2 SEXY paved the way for the scene’s current crop of rising stars, but Valentino should put those comparisons to rest off sheer quality alone. Although deeply indebted to nightlife and clearly designed to make you dance, Valentino carries a tenderness at its core that helps to soften Wolfacejoeyy’s fuckboy antics. Yes, he wants your girlfriend, but he’s going to swaddle her in Hermes before he takes her home. And where previous EPs relied more heavily on his rapping, Valentino spotlights his buttery vocals, closer to a pop or R&B record than an album by Drake or Cash.

Joeyy levitates over a gentle PoWR Trav and Whereis22 beat on “I know” and tells a true story about running into a girl who ghosted him on “stop trippin bout girls u don’t know;” his voice rockets through a meteor shower of glissandos on “TOUCH THE MOON” and cascades over the dreamy “don’t be dishonest.” Two of my favorite moments are the chirp of fingers slipping across guitar strings on “facetime interlude” and the fragments of studio audio and piano chords that close out “tiffany,” instances where the literal work of making music becomes apparent. Despite the album’s upbeat BPM, songs like “wya” hone in on internal emotions rather than external expression — we don’t get a mindless banger (the McVertt co-production “Double Tap”) until the LP is almost over. Instead, Valentino treats the club as a stage for romantic melodrama, deftly burrowing into the nuances of situationships and significant others.

The FADER caught up with Wolfacejoeyy at the start of May, right after Kendrick Lamar and Drake’s beef exploded (“This is rap music, this is what it’s about!”). We talked about his musical inspirations, living in Nigeria, bowling with Chow Lee and Cash Cobain, and more.


The FADER: You said in one of your interviews that you've been working on this album for a long time.

Technically, if we had to start from the first song I recorded for the project, it would be last September. I've had the idea for a couple of years though, like the name and what the album art was going to be like.

I initially wanted Valentino to be an EP. This is my longest project that I've ever worked on, because all my other projects are like, eight, seven, nine songs. So this one I wanted to really challenge myself, and my team really pushed me — they were like, “Yo, let's try and make this feel like a full blown project.” So the idea just slowly evolved into a whole album and building the world behind it. And I feel like now it's just the perfect time, especially with me making sexy drill, it just fit, it just went hand in hand with what the album was gonna sound like.

How was your approach to this album different compared to your EPs?

The sonics in itself are way more consistent. I am pretty vulnerable, especially when it comes to songs, but on this album, I went more in detail. The first song [“stop trippin bout girls u dont know”] is a true story. And I just put it down in a song. I never normally do that — normally I'm just making up stuff, pulling [inspiration] from a very deep place in my heart. But some of the stuff that I rap about really happened.

Valentino is not only a “front-to-back, no skips” good sexy drill project, but something that feels like a cohesive album in the same way that some concept rap albums can have that more thought-out structure.

Working on whatever project I'm doing — and this is how I've always gone about making projects since I've made my first one — I've always wanted to make my own Days Before Rodeo. I feel like that's like the most perfect mixtape of all time. So I've always wanted to make my own version of that [and] I think I'm pretty close with this one.

I really try my best to make my projects as flawless as possible. Because a lot of my favorite albums are flawless, head to toe, whether we're talking about Rodeo or ASTROWORLD or Igor or A Love Letter To You 3 or Blonde, those albums where you just listen to every single song and feel like it's not getting boring at any point. So I always try my best to really go into [recording a project] trying my best to make it as seamless as possible, so everyone can listen to it from top to bottom.

Your rap name actually comes from Wolf by Tyler, the Creator, right? Can you break that down for me?

So obviously Wolf came from Tyler, [but] Ace also came from Tyler. A lot of people don’t know that his name was Ace the Creator at one point. I wanted “Ace” in my name [because] ace means perfect and I wanted everything I did to be perfect.

And then Joey, my name. I grew up with [and] I went to school around a bunch of Italian people. So my teachers were all Italian. So when I would say, “Oh, my name is Joseph,” they'd be like, “Oh! Joey!” And then the name kind of stuck and everybody started calling me Joey. [Wolfacejoeyy] was really my Instagram handle at first but it slowly grew into a producer name and then an actual artist name.

Did you grow up with some musical training?

Nah. I mean, when I was living in Nigeria, I was in the band. I played the bass drum. It was cool, but I don't really think it helped the way I've made music now. I really just joined the band because all my friends were in the band. You know how cool it is to be on the football team here in America? If you're in the band in Nigeria, it’s lowkey the same thing. You get cool points for it.

But it was fun, I liked being in the band. But other than that no, I really don't have any formal musical training. When I was younger, my mom did try and put me in a music school. And I went there for like one week and was like, ‘Nah, not doing anymore.’ She still rips me for that to this day. She's like, “Look at you. I tried to put you in a music school and you left. Now you're making music.”

I'll tell you straight up, and you can tell your mom: you sound like somebody who's been in choir or been playing an instrument of some kind for a second. You definitely have a crazy ear and vocal tone.

That's been something that's grown over time. My mom has been right about a lot of things when it comes to my music, it's actually kind of scary.

Bringing it back to the album, why the title Valentino?

I fall in love really easily with girls. It's bad. Not as much as I used to, but back in the day, it made sense because my friends always called me a lover boy. I'd meet a girl and be like, “Yeah, bro. Yeah, guys, she's the one,” and they'll just laugh like, “No, she ain't bruh you just met her.” That's how the name came about, and then it slowly evolved into the character with the suit and tie and the roses.

You have one feature on here, Reuben Aziz, out of London. How did you guys connect and how did that song come about?

All the artists that you see me hang out with, whether it’s like Cash or Chow or anybody that you see me around, we're always homies first. This isn't no rap shit, this isn’t no politics. I really genuinely fuck with and love these people.

And I wanted him on the project because his voice is just amazing, bro. And I wanted him specifically on that song because it's an R&B song and that's his lane. So I was like, “You know what? I'm gonna make sure you get your shine because I really fuck with you and you're very talented. You're the only feature on this project, fuck it.”

Your “Birdman Pass The Torch” moment.

Not even, not even. Just some homie shit, I really love his music and he's gonna go places, for real..

I feel like when you do something hard, like trying to make it in music, why the fuck would you want to spend that time around people you don't even really enjoy being around?

Exactly. I've always tried to keep that energy around me bro, because I'm a very approachable person. How I really got cool with Cash and Chow was that we literally just went bowling together for a whole month straight. Like no joke, it was me, him, 22, all the Slizzies, all the Slizettes, we would go to Bowl 360 in Astoria. Like, that was our shit.

For weeks?

Bro, for weeks. He would literally just post randomly on his story like “Yo, drunk bowling tonight. What's the word?” I’d text and be like, “Yo, we pulling up,” he'd be like, “Bet.” We go there [and] bowl ‘til like 3 in the morning. It was crazy, bruh.

Slizzy Bowling League [laughs]. What are you bowling? Are you in the hundreds or even the two hundreds?

Look, I have my days, alright? I have my days. I have my bad days, but a lot of them are pretty good.

On the album, you say, “she like ‘boy you not 21. how the fuck you getting in the club?’” When was the first time you went to the club?

It's funny, because that line, I actually recorded that song in October and I wasn't 21 yet — I'm 21 now. But, like I said, a lot of the stuff I said on this project is super true. So it was 22’s birthday, we went to three different spots and they had to play my shit [at each spot]. [First] we went to this little event because his manager had invited us. They didn't even check my ID, they just like, dragged me in. I was like, “okay, bet,” played my song. Then we went to Harbor. One of 22’s friends, we kind of look alike. So he gave me his ID to show to the guy so I could get in. And I get in and we're there for, like, 10 minutes, and they start playing my song. I turned to him and I'm like, “Bro, isn't it crazy?” I'm in the club. I'm not 21. And they're playing my shit. Like, it's fucking insane. And then I made that song ["I know"].


Wolfacejoeyy has mastered the sexy drill singalong