Staggering into place but quickly becoming one of the more cohesive melodic hip-hop tunes I’ve listened to all November long, Joey Phantom’s “Joint and a Juicebox” comes out of the obscurity of an increasingly talented American underground sounding like a profound release indeed. There is no hesitation on the part of Phantom as he cuts into the lyrics with an almost lazy drawl, his vocal talents boldly going underemployed as he deliberately forces the tempo to slow where it would seem it should speed up. Instead of feeling like a knee-jerk away from an alternative rap trend, “Joint and a Juicebox” feels like a stab at surrealism I didn’t know this young player to be capable of, and that makes it a must-listen track in my book.
The music video for the song is a nice accompaniment, and I think it was wise to leave it indebted to an indie-style aesthetic as opposed to lending any part of its theme over to a mainstream format. The conceptualism of the composition itself is preserved wonderfully in this context, and contrary to what a lot of his peers would have done, the artsy element of his delivery here is never synthetically-focused, which makes it impossible for us to accuse him of creating a blandly conventional sound into something deceptively original.
I wasn’t following the progress Joey Phantom has been making professionally before “Joint and a Juicebox” dropped, but given the impressive growth he’s showcasing in this latest release, I think it’s time to start giving this guy his fair share of the spotlight and then some. This is a concept song without debate, but when placed side by side with a lot of the other alternative sounds swelling into significance on the college radio end of the spectrum, it feels like the right track to get out this season.