Joji transitions from YouTuber to lo-fi hip-hop artist with debut EP

Henry Netherland

For years, YouTube bad boy George “Joji” Miller has entertained and disgusted his cult fan base with a unique brand of vulgar and absurdist humor under his plethora of characters like Filthy Frank and Pink Guy. He has even gone so far as to release a 30-track mix tape titled “Pink Season” in which he raps as Pink Guy about a variety of subjects ranging from racism to pedophilia to even eating dogs.

Now, under a new name and with the help of Asian rap collective 88rising, Joji arrives with the complete opposite of his usual output on “In Tongues.”

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Within the last year, the popularity of a niche subgenre known as lo-fi hip-hop has exploded onto the internet. Relying on a unique blend of Japanese culture and moody rap beats, lo-fi hip-hop artists use “aesthetic” as the cornerstone of their appeal. Typically, instrumentals are the main focus of songs, with the occasional sampled vocal clip acting as a detour from its monotony. As popular as the genre may have become, there is yet a notable vocalist who takes advantage of these instrumentals in an engaging fashion, before Joji.

Joji subverts usual lo-fi hip-hop music with moody vocals and lyrics that play directly into the music’s aesthetic. Artists like XXXTENTACION and Ugly God have dabbled in similar instrumentals on recent projects. However, both of their albums lacked development needed to remain engaging for a substantial period of time.

From the track list, “Bitter Fuck” is the definite black sheep. While the majority of the EP is spent longing for a former lover, on “Bitter Fuck” Joji self-criticizes in a fashion that is both depressing and hilarious.

“Pills” opens with pittering guitars that glide the listener into Joji’s chant. On the verses, the instrumental feels bare-boned. Once the chorus arrives, however, the instrumentals blossom into a beautiful bouquet of sounds. It almost feels symphonic. The vocals consistently stay at the same level emotionally although there is a small increase in passion on the chorus.

As listenable as the vocals are, they do have their limitations. Joji does have pitch and he does show a decent amount of versatility, especially when he uses his falsetto as background vocals. What he has in overall skill though, he lacks in emotion. Unfortunately, he pretty much stays inside a moody bubble and never really leaves his comfort zone.

Should you listen to it? Yes

Joji’s music has its limitations, but overall it is a good debut project. Out of the many internet celebrities attempting to transition to serious musical artist, Joji is the most probable because he has one thing most YouTubers do not … talent. Every single song Joji has released on SoundCloud has consistently required several listens to appreciate every aspect. Even if the EP is not an immediate hit with you, give it some time for it to settle.

Listen to “In Tongues” on YouTube or Apple music.

Collegian reporter Henry Netherland can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @NetherlandHenry.