We’re living in quite an experimental age for hip-hop, and for evidence proving as much, I would tell you to look no further than the American underground at the moment. Simmering with creative talent like I.Am.Tru.Starr, Sane and Joey Phantom, the indie end of the business has never seemed as muscular and full of vitality as it does in 2020, and in the new single “Joint and a Juicebox” from the Kentucky-stationed Phantom, the underground gets a representative capable of bringing all of its collective heat to the game both lyrically and instrumentally. “Joint and a Juicebox” is a sonic titan, but moreover, a good way of getting to know this skillful young blood.
There’s a lot of positive rhythmic energy in the percussion despite the minimalistic presentation it’s been afforded for this setting, and something tells me that it would probably get a bit of an extra oomph from Phantom’s live performance producers simply can’t capture in a studio session. The framework of “Joint and a Juicebox” suggests this is more of a template for the stage than it is the whole nine yards of what this artist can throw down, which is one of the few elements in his style that directly tethers his music to that of his forerunners.
The master mix here is really raw and dedicated to preserving the edginess of the instrumental parts in this single, and as strange as it might seem, I think the barebones stylization of the music in “Joint and a Juicebox” is the reason why its vocal sounds so large and in charge around every twist and turn in the music here. Phantom is showing us that he can think in terms of aural depth and compositional efficiency while still giving up a lusty performance with the mic in his hand, and those aren’t attributes you can commonly find in a single artist.
I really like the fluidity of the verse in this song, and I see it as a testament to the abilities Joey Phantom has that go well outside of his skillset inside of a studio’s confining four walls. Part of the reason why I read so much angst in this performance is likely because of the situation in which it was released – in quarantine times, a player like this one has been denied access to the ultimate outlet for his expression, and in “Joint and a Juicebox,” all of that pent up emotionality is erupting in an aggressively clandestine display of displeasure.
If you’re looking for pure talent among young hip-hop but aren’t interested in anything that gets so experimental it pushes melodic concepts right out of the door, Joey Phantom is an artist that you need to have on your radar in 2020. “Joint and a Juicebox” sounds and feels like a turning point in his career thus far, and if it becomes the cornerstone of a proper debut album, I think he’ll find an easy segue from the underground into the mainstream in the near future.
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