“Isis,” track three on Joyner Lucas’ 2020 album ADHD, has over 300 million streams on Spotify. The song is an absolute monsoon of rhythm and supernatural flowing, capped off gloriously by what’s easily the best Logic verse I’ve ever heard, one in which he mentions “HD vision,” hence establishing a killer double entendre of the album’s title and the concept of “high definition.”
Yet, only one journal has reviewed this album, HIPHOPDX, and only a 2.8 out of 5 was granted, in that article. Now, you might think, the explanation for this would be that Lucas is a really “commercial” type dude, only fishing for hit singles and without enough musical ideas in tow. I actually get the exact opposite vibe from him — compared to ostentatiously attired and accessorized “stars” like Lil’ Pump, Lucas can be seen pretty much dressed like a truck driver, holding a mic, with a flannel shirt and a baseball cap on, rocking the “dad bod” unscrupulously and freely. “ADHD,” despite being a huge, popular single, is crawling with originality and authenticity, and even a little sacrificial self-deprecation: “Three times for the bit**es on the Internet / Shi**in’ on ni**az when they really should get out more”. Mind you, this rhetoric is spewed and superhuman speed, more or less, and with perfect rhythmic exactness.
The HIPHOPDX review for this guy plays as a veritable brochure of jealousy and spite. Right away, the critic launches into a discourse on how the preceding years of ADHD furnished “a torrential downpour of abrasive singles and big-budget videos,” a fact that’s aside the point from any examination of the album’s quality, and, simultaneously, positing two sub-red-herrings, if you will, of the artificial truth of abrasiveness and high budget necessarily yielding artistic degradation.
HIPHOPDX states that Lucas has an “inability to stay on track.” Well, yeah… the album is called ADHD. This fact should have been self-evident from the start. What I hear is a robust, verbose trap album, criminally overlooked by the year-end best-of lists of both Pitchfork and Rolling Stone, and one that’s catered to our day and age in being singles-oriented, its incohesiveness, or apparent incohesiveness, playing like an entertaining roller coaster ride on which there are several breathers and several episodes of subject matter dynamic and variety. “Devil’s Work,” for instance, amongst more light-hearted numbers, is a gripping dirge dedicated to a God who let so many of his friends and favorite rappers die, unfurling the brilliant line, in the meantime, of “I don’t go to church / Because I’m afraid of being judged”.
All the way through, I listened to ADHD and didn’t get bored (perhaps its mood aligns with my own abnormal psychology… we’ll see) and even had to turn off “Revenge” because it was just too intense and was liable to make me go do something stupid. But this is the best rapper alive, folks, with a stream of great collabos, from Timbaland, to Logic, to Chris Brown and even Fabolous, the type of guest roster J. Cole could only dream of pulling. But maybe we’ll get an album with 17 “Miss Jacksons” on it one of these days, for cohesiveness purposes to play “forevah… forevah evah…”
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