After years of teasing his debut album, Joyner Lucas has finally released ‘A.D.H.D’ and it definitely has its issues. It wasn’t until the 2015 mixtape ‘Along Came Joyner’ that people started noticing the potential behind the now 31-year old rapper. On songs like ‘Ross Capicchioni’ he displayed his storytelling skills and accompanied it with a striking short film. That video allowed for the audience to feel the weight of the narrative. His musical capability only seemed to be growing deeper and more mature with time. On one of 2017’s most underrated projects, ‘508-507-2209′ he showcased his excellent lyrical and conceptual abilities. Let us explain to you the problem with ‘A.D.H.D’.
He began to receive mainstream attention in the fall of 2017 with the release of his powerful music video ‘I’m Not Racist.’ The track shared two very different perspectives. The first was that of a white American man, while the second perspective was a black American man’s. This important song shed light on the disconnect between the two men which was based their skin color. The concept of the track was universally praised by hip-hop fans and the video is currently sitting at 136M views on YouTube. A year later, Joyner was featured on his idol Eminem’s ‘Lucky You’ which he received a Grammy nomination for. With a knack for creative flows and an appetite to become one of hip-hop’s finest, it appeared as though Joyner had everything going for him. All he had left to do was solidify himself with his debut studio album.
In 2018, Joyner announced that his debut studio album would be inspired by his childhood diagnosis of ADHD. A week after the announcement, we received the first single, ‘I Love’ where he raps in the position of an underdog to great effect. He then made the declaration that he would be releasing a new single every couple of weeks within the span of a few months. He decided to do this up until releasing the project. An unconventional method of promoting an album, however it was likely a strategy formed with the hopes of creating more anticipation. This indicated to his fans that there may be issues with ‘A.D.H.D’.
By releasing a total of eight tracks over the course of two years, he lowered people’s excitement level for the project. When the album dropped, people were not thrilled given that they already heard these forgettable tracks. There was no excitement and people didn’t feel like revisiting them. Perhaps if the tracks were remarkable, people would have been hungry for more. Sadly, the tracks he released were amongst the worst on the album. Joyner made a conscious decision to drop a bunch of loosies and consequently drained the excitement out of his fanbase.
Thoughts on the Album
The title of the album indicates to the listener that Joyner would be depicting his life struggles dealing with his ADHD condition. However, Joyner only mentions his condition when rapping about being able to achieve greatness despite his diagnosis. He provides no true introspection on how it has affected him. Also, he offers no advice to fans that may also have ADHD. The only time his condition is the focus of a song, is on the strange skits that feature his vulgar and abusive doctor. Instead of creating immersive storytelling tracks about these experiences, he wastes the material on his skits. Joyner adds some comedy to the album by having actors Chris Tucker and Kevin Hart appear on their own skits.
With the exception of a few tracks, everything Joyner tried going for with this album didn’t work. On songs like ‘ADHD, ‘10 bands’, and ‘Lotto’ his lyrics are extremely vague and offer nothing of substance. On the awful track ‘Devil’s Work’ he blames God for the tragic deaths of XXXtentacion and Nipsey Hussle. He spends the entirety of the song ranting against God. Furthermore he names people that shouldn’t have died while also naming people who should have been “taken” instead. On the Young Thug assisted ‘The War’ and ‘Gold Mine’ Joyner takes a more melodic approach and sounds like a poor man’s Ty Dolla $ign. The album’s production is another weak point. Most of these songs feature over three producers and end up feeling jumbled up. The majority of the beats are generic and sound like background noise. This is the problem with ‘A.D.H.D’.
The one useful feature he acquired for the album was Chris Brown for ‘Finally’. It’s a mediocre performance by Joyner but Chris Breezy offers a smooth hook. They previously worked together on three tracks ,which were singles for their future collaboration project ‘Angels & Demons’. The two artists make for an odd duo but have had a decent track record so far. The album’s best song is the outro ‘Broke and Stupid’ which features a nice soul sample and some reflective rhyming. His tribute track to Will Smith entitled ‘Will’ isn’t too shabby either, as he manages to reference all of the actor’s films in a natural way.
Given that Joyner’s music appeals to those with ears for lyrical substance, fans will surely be disappointed with his latest effort. The lacklustre bars and rhyme schemes provide no glimpses of complexity or artistic growth. The majority of content being pushed by Joyner on this project focuses on his victories, issues with women and other formulaic topics. Throughout the project Joyner is seemingly taking a victory lap, but he shouldn’t have too much pride for this underwhelming debut. To conclude, what do you think is the problem with ‘A.D.H.D’.
Favourite Tracks: ‘I Love’, ‘Will’ & ‘Broke and Stupid’.
Least Favourite Tracks: ‘The War’, ‘Devil’s Work’, ’10 bands’, ‘ADHD’, etc.
Written by Luca Guerini,
Content Director, NFR Podcast