If you’ve followed my blog over the years, or know me personally, you know I am a huge fan of the work of Joi, the Nasvhille raised and Atlanta based artist who emerged out of the early 1990s as a pioneering voice in what was a new genre, “neo-soul” (which some say was originally penned by a reviewer to describe her 1993 debut, The Pendulum Vibe.).
But Joi is an iconoclast, and her follow-up recording 1997’s Amoeba Cleansing Syndrome (a project that was only recently released by Joi herself, after 2 record labels folded before it could be released), were it released, would have at the time made the neo-soul label passe, as the record break with any kind of convention of the time and includes a range of rock, funk, go-go, soul and hip-hop influences (check the video for the one single that got released, a duet with ex-husband and Goodie Mob’s Big Gipp, Ghetto Superstar).
Four records later, Joi is back, this time in a project with her current partner and guitarist (the smoldering hot) Devon Lee for a joint collaboration under the name Hot, Heavy & Bad. They’ve released their first single and video from the upcoming project, called One. I hate comparing artists work to one another, but the track and vocals are definitely reminiscent of what Prince B-sides used to sound like–trippy, dark, heavy, dripping with sexuality, and overlaying one’s vocals on top of itself to create interesting textures behind a fairly sparse track. The video should provide lots of fodder for budding feminist academics writing about Black women’s sexuality and sexual agency in popular culture (You gotta see for yourself! Video below).
After a 17 year career, with 4 recordings, and collaborations on nearly every OutKast record, and with George Clinton, Curtis Mayfield, TLC, Raphael Saadiq and many others, Joi’s own hometown is just beginning to pay its respects. Creative Loafing, the alternative weekly of ATL, just gave Joi her first and well-earned cover story. So you can find out more about her work in that story.
If you’re in ATL, you can catch Joi & Devon every Saturday night at Pal’s Lounge, for her “Futuristic Throwback” set.
If you’re in NYC this Friday (August 13) at 9m Joi is headlining Slum Beautiful: Music from the Gut of Black America at Littlefield, in Park Slope, BK. DJ Sabine of OyaSound Productions will be spinning. I’ll be there.