INTERVIEW: Joyner Lucas touches on his flair for storytelling and who he gets compared to

Pictured (left to right) Joyner Lucas and his manager Sha Money XL

Pictured (left to right) Joyner Lucas and his manager Sha Money XL

Joyner Lucas has been recording music since the age of 10, yeah TEN years old so this man is no stranger to a microphone.  Through hard work, diligence and creativity he has earned himself not only a record deal with Atlantic Records (home to some of the hottest artists out right now; Bruno Mars, Kehlani, Lil Uzi Vert, Ed Sheeran, Ty Dolla $ign, Janelle Monae and the list goes on) but also has maintained to keep the industry buzzing in regards to his 2015 mixtape Along Came Joyner, BET Cypher and his fire remix to Desiigner's smash record Panda.  We were able to catch up with him while he was on tour with Hopsin.  In between doing some shopping on W. 9th at Krush and choppin' it up on his tour bus with DJ E Dubble as well as manager Sha Money XL, we were able to ask him a few questions.

From the O-H: We have a lot of people in Cleveland who may not have been following you or your journey.  Can you give us a summary of who Joyner Lucas is?

Joyner Lucas: I never knew how to answer that question, honestly. 

From the O-H: Well, describe your music.  What’s your sound?

Joyner Lucas: *laughing* Well, I’m Joyner Lucas and my sound is a mixture of storytelling and raw street mixed with some turnt up .. man I don’t know.  Depending on the day, you’re going to get something new from me.  

From the O-H: You've been putting in work as an indie artist for awhile now and I read that you recently inked a record deal with Atlantic Records. Congratulations to you!  What made you choose to go the major label route?

Joyner Lucas: Thank you.  That’s something that I wanted to do since I was a kid.  I always had dreams of signing to a major label and even though you grow up and things change and everybody’s trying to sway you into the different direction of going independent.  I was independent for a couple of years and I seen how that route takes a long time to be a success.  To be a successful independent record label you go to have bread and you gotta have your own resources.  At the end of the day, it’s like why don’t I just get that machine?  I know I needed a machine to become what I wanted to be.

From the O-H: I read somewhere that you pride yourself on being different musically, what makes you so different from the average rapper we hear now?

Joyner Lucas: Those questions make me feel like I’m boasting about myself and I just don’t know how to answer those questions.  The only thing I can say is, maybe the separation would be the visuals.  My visuals are kinda like a soundtrack to the story.  I’m actually a fan of a lot of people they compare me to.

From the O-H: Like who?

Joyner Lucas: I get compared a lot to Cole [J. Cole] or I get compared a lot to Kendrick, Drake and Eminem but I don’t have any issues with saying that I think they are better than me.  I think Drake is better than me, I think Em is better than me, I think Kendrick is a better artist than me, a better writer.  I’m not here to be the best or feel that I’m the best or I’m going to be the best over the whole rap world.  As long as I can create that emotional connection with my fans, they rock me with me than that’s all that matters.  Everybody got their own lanes and I respect everybody's art.  I really can’t tell you what I’m bringing different or better than the next artist because to me it’s not really about that.

From the O-H: Going through your catalog you have some powerful, profound records already out here that are speaking on some deep subjects.  What inspires you to create those types of tracks?  *the tracks I mentioned were Half Ni**er, Happy Birthday and I'm Sorry

Joyner Lucas: Just going through life; like for instance my step dad comes home and he’s like, "My friend just committed suicide." I gotta bunch of fans hitting me up telling me that their suicidal so it just makes sense to make a record about that.  You know?  Somebody will go through something that happened on the Happy Birthday record which would inspire me to be like, "yo let me write a song about this" or the beat will really take me to where I need to be.  It’s all just creativity.  The beat will make me think of something just outlandish.  It comes from what I picture in my head as far as what the visuals look like.  That’s what the storyline would be half the time, if I’m going in that direction but not every Joyner Lucas record is a storytelling record though.  I just prefer to make music videos that have a meaning, that’s all.  

From the O-H: I heard some artists say that it makes their day when a fan hits them up and says that something inspired them, something that YOU did inspired them.  How does that make you feel when you have a fan that says they heard I’m Sorry and they say, "You know what? This hit me to that point that I wanted to commit and I listened to your record…"

I was the designated photographer for Joyner's crowd during his set.

I was the designated photographer for Joyner's crowd during his set.

Joyner Lucas: *interjects** I get that all of the time.  

From the O-H: Do you?

Joyner Lucas: Yeah, all of the time.

From the O-H: I think I saw that on your Facebook.

Joyner Lucas: Yeah, sometimes I get that at my shows.  It means a lot to me.  That’s what it was for, it was meant for that.  You know what I mean? It was meant to make people want to look at things differently.  A lot of my music videos, a lot of my storytelling records are not just for shits & giggles.  Those records are created to make people look inside themselves and change without me having to tell them to change.  So I’m not just going to jump on a record and say, “Don’t kill yourself, it’s bad for you, don’t do it, you gotta lotta life to live.”  Instead, I’m going to do it in a way that makes people think about themselves and make that decision for themselves. Ross Capicchioni, that record is about not trusting people.  I didn’t jump on a record and say, "Don’t trust people, somebody can do this to you."  I show them and make them look at themselves and say, "Damn, I never wanna trust somebody like that."  Happy Birthday, that record was meant to make anybody who is even a stepfather or someone who thought the baby was his but it wasn’t.  Whatever the case may be, that record was meant to make that person say, "Damn, it’s not the kid’s fault.".  Champagne For Everybody?  Another record that’s meant to make people look inside themselves.  I’m not preaching to them, I’m telling a story to make people look inside themselves and go, "Damn".  Forgiveness, what would Jesus do? and I guess to answer your first question what is Joyner Lucas about? With the storytelling records, Joyner Lucas makes records that makes people want to look inside themselves and want to change for the better.

From the O-H: I think Hopsin is dope and I have been rockin' with him since he was with Funk Volume.  How did you both connect in order to make this tour a reality?

Joyner Lucas: I hit up Jarren Benton when I was in L.A. while staying at this mansion.  I asked him to link me with Hopsin.  He called him and Hopsin came through.  We ended up just choppin' it, kickin' it and ever since then we just became tight.  I ended up getting the pleasure of coming on tour with him.  

From the O-H: What can we expect from you in the future?

Joyner Lucas: A lot more great videos and a movie.  That’s the next thing I’m working on, an album/movie.  *laughs* A malbum! The first MALBUM ever, I might just call it that.  It’s going to be like those storytelling videos but an entire movie written, starring, directed and edited by Joyner Lucas.  Other than that, I’m working with [producer] Boi-1da and we got some joints coming out.  This new project is dope so that’s about to drop as soon as I finish this damn cover to it.  The tracks are all done.  We’re just working man.  More touring, more collaborations, more money and more accomplishments.

From the O-H: What's some advice that you would give to indie artists out here that are musically stuck in a rut.  Maybe music isn’t going anywhere for them or it's taking a long time to see the results that they are looking for.  What would you tell them?

Joyner Lucas: It all depends. Some people don’t have no business making music at all.  Some people, maybe its not going anywhere because maybe they’re not good.  If they are good, I feel like they have to figure out what they’re NOT doing.  Are they working? Quit your job.  You can’t be a part-time worker and a part-time musician.  If this is what you wanna do then you gotta put 100% of your time into it which means that you can’t have a job.  When opportunities present themselves your excuse is, “I can’t go because I gotta go to work.”  Well, what the f*ck are you even doing in the music industry then?  Quit.  If you have any distractions around that you need to get rid of that’s prohibiting you from elevating to the next level,  I would say f*ck those distractions “FAD” [FAD is an acronym created by Joyner meaning F*ck All Distractions] and eliminate those negative entities from your circle. Get your mind right and work hard for what you believe in.  That’s what I did.

From the O-H: Thank you for everything, it has been a helluva experience holding your jacket while you shopped. *laughing*

Joyner Lucas: *cracks up* My fault yo!