Stars: 4/5

“BALLADS 1” is Joji’s first full-length debut as an artist, but it definitely isn’t his first rodeo.

Joji didn’t start out as a singer. His walk into fame began with his now inoperative YouTube channel “TVFilthyFrank.” His channel was a bit of a foreshadowing to his current career. He rapped and produced videos where he was most of all the characters. He produced parody’s under the name Pink Guy, and he started the viral dance, “Harlem Shake.”

He wasn’t taken seriously on his channel, but that clearly wasn’t what he was aiming for anyway. This all changed in 2017 when he deleted his channel to focus on music, which would later be a consequential transition for his career.

During the first year of his official music career, he released his first EP, “In Tongues,” which is five songs with an interlude called “worldstar money.” In his EP he had the chance to set the tone of what his career would be and people were surprised at how serious he began to take himself. His music is a mix of R&B with lo-fi beats. His lyrics are meaningful and show that he is more than just “Filthy Frank.”

“BALLADS 1" was released on Oct. 26 and it quickly debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200  and topped iTunes charts. The album features well-known names like Thundercat and Trippie Redd, which gave Joji the opportunity to expand and explore his official style as an R&B solo artist.

The album birthed hits such as “SLOW DANCING IN THE DARK” and “YEAH RIGHT.” His music is likely well-perceived because he has relatable lyrics, like in his song “Can’t Get Over You," he says that he doesn't have any social cues, which hits home for a lot of people. The song also features a bass line from Thundercat, which gives it a jazzy feel.

The song “YEAH RIGHT” was a longer project for Joji. He said in an interview with  Genius that he tried to get as ugly as he could to show the true meaning of the song. The song talks about the highs and lows of life, and  Joji portrays it through one of his low points. He didn't shower or prepare for the music shoot and gained about 20 pounds. “YEAH RIGHT” shows just how far Joji is willing to go for his music and how much it means to him.

The album has mostly all catchy songs with nice melodies but it can get a bit repetitive. The songs don’t have a clear significant difference between them, but that isn't to say that they are bad. They all have lo-fi beats and are pretty chill.

“BALLADS 1” was a great start for Joji. He explored collaborations with other artists and seemed to determine what his own musical style will be. For Joji’s first album he did an excellent job and will definitely be held to high standards for his next album.

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