“I made up my mind, I’m going out like Robin Williams/I guess I’m not the Ordinary People of John Legend/And I’ve been suicidal since the day I was nine.” The powerful lyrics of rapper Joyner Lucas highlight his friends’ struggles with suicide. Joyner hit some people by surprise this summer by dropping his first album, “(508) 507-2209.” After listening to it, I think Loyner Lucas deserves more attention in hip-hop than he already gets.
Joyner’s style of storytelling music has a street edge to it. The scenes and images that he portrays in his songs are extremely vivid, as if you are reading a book. The production of his music matches the album’s theme and tone perfectly.
Joyner has been rapping since he was a child and has been releasing quality music for a few years, yet none of his projects have been as impactful as this. The album contains so much detail; you can take apart each of his 16 tracks and study what they are all about. The tracks are connected by voicemails at the beginning and end of each song which, although it may seem minor, help put the whole project together as one piece of work.
“Glad you are the king to your own castle/You handle life when it’s thrown at you.” Joyner expresses his problems throughout the album, and here in the song “Just Like You” he is saying that people should man up and handle their responsibilities. His stories are very relatable for people who are struggling financially. In “Winter Blues” Joyner talks about a man who is struggling to live and has no other way to make money except by selling drugs. He says in the song, “I can’t even count it on all my fingers how much sh--t that I lost.” Joyner expresses how unjust life is to those who need help the most.
Joyner’s most resonating and important lyrics are found in the opening track, “Ultrasound”: “I been living in the ghetto where the devils pray to God.” Joyner paints a picture of how living in the ghetto is comparable to living in Hell and explores how lower socioeconomic neighborhoods are segregated from the rest of society. The mainstream community looks down on them and perceives them as devils. In the lyrics, he says that the devils are praying to “God.” The question is, who is the God that they are praying to?
Joyner’s fifteenth track, “I’m Sorry,” is arguably the most popular. In it, Joyner talks about a friend of his who committed suicide. What makes this song special is that Joyner uses “point of view duality,” which is basically singing or rapping a song from two different perspectives. Point of view duality is still new in music, and hasn’t had much of a breakthrough. In “I’m Sorry” Joyner starts in his own point of view, showing extreme anger and frustration, saying he literally wants to pull his friend “out of the casket.” In the second part of the song, Joyner sings from his friend’s point of view, giving us insight on his struggle with depression.
“(508) 507-2209” is perfectly executed. With a combination of fast-paced beats and spine-chilling lyrics, Joyner grabs the attention of his listeners in every song. His storytelling style imparts important messages about struggles in life such as money, love, drugs, and lawlessness. This album is definitely worth listening to, and it is the reason why Joyner Lucas should receive more recognition.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.