Joyner Lucas soared to fame, seemingly overnight, when his chilling video for "I'm Not Racist" went viral and earned him a Grammy nomination.
But in reality Joyner has been hard at work since his days in the underground hip hop group Film Skool Rejekts, back in the mid-aughts. He had four studio albums under his belt before "I'm Not Racist" started garnering some well-deserved mainstream recognition. Oh, and an Eminem co-sign in an interview conducted by Elton John certainly didn't hurt his career either.
However, Joyner has more than earned all of the attention he's received over the last few years. He's cultivated a reputation for delivering hard-hitting, introspective, and honest bars without sacrificing anything in the way of technical skill on the mic. And in the second single off of his forthcoming album, ADHD, Joyner continues to innovate and impress.
The video for "Devil's Work" features Joyner alone in a church, accompanied only by a half-empty bottle of Hennessy, a statue of Jesus on the cross, and a serious crisis of faith. He challenges God, airing his grievances directly in a way that almost feels like he's serving up a sincere and emotionally wrought diss track to the lord, calling him out for making some questionable and unjust decisions—especially regarding which souls get taken early and which are granted positions of power. "Give us back 2Pac," he pleads, "and take that _____ Suge [...] Give us Biggie, give us Pun, give us triple X / Take that _____ Trump with you, that's a bigger threat [...] I need you to give us back Martin Luther, take Martin Shkreli / Give us back Malcolm, take R. Kelly." Joyner goes on to pay respects to a few other people who were taken too soon: Michael Jackson, Nipsey Hussle, Selina, Aaliyah, Trayvon Martin, and Emmett Till to name a few.
As one might expect given its political statements,"Devil's Work" has been met with some mixed reactions. Love it or hate it, Joyner has managed to capture a common (if under-discussed) aspect of the human experience: those long nights where we get drunk with doubt and overwhelmed by the sprawling list of senseless injustices in the world. He does so with a certain blend of honesty; raw, emotional candor; and lyrical prowess that only Joyner Lucas could deliver.
Joyner Lucas - Devil's Work (ADHD) www.youtube.com
Dustin DiPaulo is a writer and musician from Rochester, New York. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Florida Atlantic University and can most likely be found at a local concert, dive bar, or comedy club (if he's not getting lost somewhere in the woods).
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