Album Review: Joji – BALLADS 1

By Dylan Benedict, Contributor
[88rising; 2018]
Rating: 6.5/10

Key Tracks: “SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK”, “CAN’T GET OVER YOU”, “NO FUN”

For many people, when they hear or see Joji, they automatically associate the rapper with his days on YouTube as Filthy Frank or Pink Guy, but his new album, BALLADS 1, helps to separate him from those days of light-hearted comedy. With this album, Joji has shown the world that he is much more than just an online personality to laugh at. His lyrics cut deep into the issues he deals with on a daily basis, focusing mainly on his feelings of loneliness and losing someone he once loved.

Read more: Album Review: Joji – In Tongues

The opening track, “ATTENTION”, sets the pace for the rest of the album. With the first line, “Girl, would it kill you just to throw a little bit of attention?”, it’s clear that Joji isn’t here just to make a fool of himself and entertain the crowd like he did during his days on YouTube. He demands to be taken seriously, and with this album, he’s shown that he deserves it. Although the mixing on songs like “ATTENTION” and “I’LL SEE YOU IN 40” get a little strange when the beat is overlaid on top of the vocals so heavily that you can barely understand what is being said, the rest of production is very professional. Joji is able to express his feelings in a deep poetic way through lines from songs like “SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK” in which he says, “Give me reasons we should be complete / You should be with him, I can’t compete.” Listening to the album, you feel as if you are going through a break up yourself and can relate to the sadness Joji is feeling.

Although most of the album is impressive, it’s clear that there are a few areas where Joji could improve. The beats for all the songs are each unique in their own way, but as the album goes on, they all begin to blur together, with almost every song having a slow-paced beat played with a guitar or piano riff. The features on the album could also use some work. The Trippie Redd-featuring song “R.I.P.” could’ve been a lot better if Joji would have found a musician who can match his vocal range. Trippie sounds as if he is struggling to match Joji’s pitch and isn’t able to.

This album all together is a big step for Joji toward becoming a serious musician. His previous song releases were always pretty solid, but they’re nothing compared to BALLADS 1. You can really feel the time, dedication and passion he put into this album.

Listen here:

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