A couple years ago, I reviewed an album by a young, London-based MC named Joejas. Well, he’s back with his latest and fourth release, Gaps and Nomads, again entirely written, produced and otherwise assembled by himself.
My initial impression was that I dug this a little less than his previous outing, but it’s been growing on me with each re-listen. Certainly, if you’re already a fan of Joejas, you’ve no need to worry, there’s definitely still plenty you’ll enjoy. “Nomad” takes some especially bold production swings that really pay off, including electric guitar riffs and old school percussion. And “Suedeflips!” is already one of the strongest, smoothest tracks, and then it springs to a whole second life in the last minute with the inclusion of some sweet Calypso steel drums.
My biggest complaint about the last album is still at play, though: a number of these songs feel too comfortable to just ride the rhythm of a repetitious hook. I ran low on patience a couple of times just wanting him to keep it moving to the next rap portion. For example, “Sally’s Last Dance” could either use a second verse or a minute shaved off the running time. And “Gappy’s Overalls” starts to feel stuck in a rut, too. Outside of that gripe, though, the album moves at a pretty quick pace. It’s just nine songs, with an average length of like 2:15, the last of which is a quirky instrumental.
And there are definitely moments when the thoughtful song-writing syncs up perfectly with the catchy, head-nodding production that harken back to the highlights of the last album. “March 30th” is a touching tribute to his father without feeling sappy or overly sentimental. And “Escape!” opens strong with a tight yet introspective verse, and keeps that energy flowing through the whole song:
“The picked on
But never the ‘pick me.’
Since the age of 16,
Been making sick tees.
The young wizard
With the I times 3,
Chilling where the dogs sounds
With the I-N-G.
Do what I please, fuck critics.
Mid 20’s blooming;
Fuck a limit.
‘Cause you told to straighten up
When your path seem different,
Or they wanna feed you pills
When you hype and might fidget.”
I hope he continues do what he pleases, despite us critics, because it works more often than it doesn’t. And a creative misstep trumps a cynical attempt to cash in on a trend every time. But I really would appreciate a heavier raps-to-hooks ratio on the next outing.
Gaps and Nomads is once again available on CD in a colorful digipack with an illustrated lyrics booklet. If you are interested in this album, I definitely recommend the physical format – I mean, above and beyond how I always recommend physical formats – because the artwork and presentation are big parts of the experience that you’d miss out on just casually clicking over to this on Spotify.