Joi Re-Emerges “Hot, Heavy, & Bad!”

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.

Where I’ll Be Saturday Night: LICK Presents “Circus City” with Joi, Renee Neufville, Patty Crash & Free the Robots


LaBelle Tribute with Joi, Tamar Kali

Joi, Tamar-kali, blacKbusheIn 2005 I was at AfroPunk film and taste-maker James Spooner’s first Liberation Sessions, a party that was dedicated to shocasing Black rock acts, when Younglao and Joi were the two artists who performed that night. When Joi was about to launch into her cover of Labelle’s You Turn Me On, she peered into the audience and pondered, “Do my eyes decieve me or is that Nona Muthafuckin Hendrix in the audience?”

The audience went wild, and I turned to see Ms. Hendrix, one third of the original LaBelle, was sitting on top a speaker right behind me. Joi, along with then backup singer Keisha Jackson (daughter of R&B legend Millie Jackson), launched into the powerhouse ballad penned by Hendrix, and brought the house down.

This Saturday in New York City, Joi (aka Starr Kitti aka Tennessee Slim) will headline a tribute show to Patti Labelle, Sarah Dash, and Nona Hendrix’s groundbreaking group LaBelle. The show will also feature Tamar-Kali (who is nobody to sleep on, trust me!), and Shelley Nicole’s blaKbushe. If you get the tickets ahead of time, and use the discount code, the tickets are half the cost. The show is produced by the women of color led and operated Ubiquita NYC, which produces and promotes some of the best parties and music shows in NYC.

Show details:

The Queen’s Daughters: Celebrating Women Who Rock with a Touch of Soul: Honoring the Musical Legacy of Labelle

Doors open @ 6:45pm for VIP pre-show reception; 7:45pm for General Admission; Show starts @ 8:30pm
$30 VIP Ticket Code: VQD777 | $20 GA Ticket Code: QD777
The Grand Ballroom at The Manhattan Center 311 West 34th Street, Corner of 8th Avenue

You are cordially invited to be part of a historic evening bridging past, present and future for women of color in music. THE QUEEN’S DAUGHTERS will feature stellar performances by 3 of the hottest women in independent music today as they pay tribute to the musical legacy of the incomparable LABELLE. Mother’s Day Weekend will never be the same. Featuring live performances by Shelley Nicole’s blaKbüshe, Tamar-Kali, and JOI. Sounds provided by THE LADIES OF UBIQUITA DJ’s Reborn, Selly & shErOck. Tickets available through Ticketmaster. Or by calling the Manhattan Center: 212-279-7740 Ask to speak to Mia, Lena, or DeVasha.

Beyond Lady Marmalade: Why Patti Labelle is Legendary!

It annoys me to no end that people think Patti Labelle is just hair and loud voice. Steam will pour from my ears when people only know “Lady Marmalade.” If you think the song started with Aguilera, Mya, Pink and Lil Kim, you betta stand arm’s length away: I may just slap your ignorant face! Anyhoo…

In honor of Patti’s special show “Clash of the Choirs” this week (which begin last night), I thought I’d post this video from Labelle (which , children was an entire group comprised of Patti Labelle, Nona Hendryx, and Sarah Dash). It’s the Nona Hendryx penned tune “You Turn Me On.” (And a HUGE THANKS to my sister for pointing me to this video, and then kicking my ass to blog about it. Smooches!)

Patti’s vocals are so rich, so layered, and so urgent, you forget about the costumes and all you can think about is the last person that made you “come like the pourin rain each time they called your name.” It should tell you why Patti is legendary, and if she never recorded another record since Labelle disbanded, she’d still be an icon! Without further ado, “You Turn Me On!”

(For a fierce remake of this track, check out Joi’s version, featuring the late Myrna “Screechy Peach” Crenshaw. Joi now usually sings this live with Keisha Jackson (daughter of R&B blues legend Millie Jackson).