Music star George Kusunoki Miller, better known by his stage name Joji, announced the release of his upcoming album Nectar, scheduled for September 25, 2020. Joji is a Japanese singer-songwriter, record producer, author, and comedian. Through hard work and dedication to his craft, he found success by the age of 26; he is well known for his emotive blend of R&B and alternative punk.
His sophomore album Nectar comes after his debut album BALLADS 1, which was released in October of 2018. The album, which is told from multiple perspectives based on both Joji’s real and imagined life, places an emphasis on the struggles one faces when confronted with change. Following the release of BALLADS 1, Joji became the first Asian artist to reach number one on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Charts. His song “Slow Dancing in the Dark,” earned platinum status.
After learning the news of reaching number one on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Charts, Joji acknowledge and thanked his fans, stating: “I was eating a thin slice of cheese when I received this news. I smiled and swallowed the cheese. A big thank you to the fans who constantly support. Take care of the environment.” He also published an image of the accolade on Instagram with the caption “CAME A LONG WAY BABY. 3X CARDBOARD. 7X STYROFOAM WE LIT. THANK YOU FOR THE CONSTANT SUPPORT I LOVE U GUYS.”
Prior to BALLADS 1, Joji had also released In Tongues, his extended play in November 2017. It was the introduction to Joji’s more serious, emotional, and chill vibe as an artist – an album that included upbeat melodies paired with witty lyrics.
An innovative sound emerging, Joji’s new album Nectar
“takes a sonically different approach from BALLADS 1
with a sound that’s less focused on Joji’s typical melancholy,
lo-fi sound. Instead, the album takes a mix of many retro elements
and lo-fi instrumentation from old Joji projects.”
Originally set to release in July, Nectar was delayed due to coronavirus. Joji wrote to his fans on June 12th, 2020 via Twitter:
“Unfortunately, we have to postpone the release of Nectar due to the pandemic. It has affected the whole process for the last 3-4 months, and forced me to push the date to September 25. (1/3) … I was really excited to get this amazing project out to you and I’ve been busting my balls to bring you the best work. For real I’m really sorry and it breaks my heart to tell you. Though the situation was out of our hands, I can’t help but feel like I’ve failed you guys. (2/3) … HOWEVER, this is the least of our problems. There are way more important issues going on right now and this should be the least of everyone’s concerns. I’d like us to keep the focus on change, social justice, and the empowerment of Black people. love y’all (3/3).”
Although delayed, Joji has still been able to release multiple singles since 2019, all which have found immense popularity among his audience.
His first single was released on June 14, 2019: “Sanctuary.” A ballad that features the artists melodic high-pitched voice, the track illustrates the emotions experienced when losing a lover.
Go ahead and bark after dark / Fallen star, I’m your one call away / Motel halls, neon walls / When night falls, I am your escape / When you lay alone, I ache / Something I wanted to feel / If you’ve been waitin’ for fallin’ in love / Babe, you don’t have to wait on me / ‘Cause I’ve been aimin’ for Heaven above / But an angel ain’t what I need / Not anyone, you’re the one / More than fun, you’re the Sanctuary / ‘Cause what you want is what I want / Sincerity / Souls that dream alone lie awake / I’ll give you somethin’ so real / If you’ve been waitin’ for fallin’ in love / Babe, you don’t have to wait on me / ‘Cause I’ve been aimin’ for Heaven above / But an angel ain’t what I need / Pull me oh-so close / ‘Cause you never know / Just how long our lives will be / If you’ve been waitin’ for fallin’ in love / Babe, you don’t have to wait on me / ‘Cause I’ve been aimin’ for Heaven above / But an angel ain’t what I need. (Lyrics, Sanctuary by Joji).
The music video for “Sanctuary” includes imagery from Star Trek and is about unrequited love, and the effect it can have on an individual; a warning about the dangers of being oblivious. At first, Joji, who plays a space ranger traversing the galaxy, is seen fighting some unidentified alien who holds a glowing purple object, an object which becomes the symbol for love throughout the video.
As he loses sight of the purple object, Joji seems to go into a deep depression. One of Joji’s subordinates finds himself falling in love with his captain, and will do anything to make him feel better about the loss. Eventually, this desire to help the captain turns into an obsession and, as it turns out, this astronaut was willing to cut out his own eye as well as go on a murderous rampage; all in the name of cheering up the captain.
This quirky and ‘80’s influenced cinematic presentation brought out a comedic side of the artist while still allowing him to share his saddening story. It is a display of the performers creativity and demonstrates his innovation as a rising artist.
The record’s second single, “Run,” was released on February 7, 2020. The title foreshadows the lyrics of the song, which displays Joji running from his feelings. Similar to that of his first album, this song utilizes a melancholy tune and is partnered with a video that captures the essence of the lyrics.
I fell for your magic / I tasted your skin / And though this is tragic / At least I found the end / I witness your madness / You shed light on my sins / And if we share in this sadness / Then where have you been? / I know you’re not in love / Like you used to be / Guess I’m not the one / Like you used to think / So you just run / I know that I’m stuck / In this misery / Guess I’m not enough / Like you used to think / So I’ll just run / You bathe in your victory / You blew out on my fuse / And if I took on the planet / Will I pay my dues? / Your love was a mystery / Yeah my love is a fool / And I traveled the country / Just to get to you / I know you’re not in love / Like you used to be / I guess I’m not the one / Like you used to think / So you just run / I know that I’m stuck / In this misery / Guess I’m not enough / Like you used to think / So I’ll just run / I know you’re not in love / I know you’re not in love / I know you’re not in love. (Lyrics, Run by Joji).
The meaning behind the lyrics can vary depending on the interpretation of the listener, but the overall theme is understood. The beginning of the track outlines the subject of the song, introducing the impact a lost love had on Joji’s life. The context is past tense, making it apparent that he is speaking of the past. Moving forward, Joji shares about his intoxication with his previous love, and the madness that it brought to his being. He insinuates that the love was perfect, until it was ended. The chorus interrupts the first verse and is a reminder of the love that existed but reiterates how it has ended. The song continues to recall the separation and the difficulty of coping with the change. Overall, the sound seems to express one’s inability to let go of love.
The video, which was released shortly after the song, is another visually stimulating expression of Joji’s pain following loss. Much different compared to his previous single, this video was less dramatic and instead focused on provoking direct emotion within the viewer. The video commences with Joji waking up in the back of a limo with a look of confusion; then, throughout the video, he is seen continuously running through this endless limo, passing party goers along the way. His face is filled with anxiety and despair as he tries to escape, representing his inability to escape from his feelings within. Eventually, it ends with Joji breaking free of the automobile, only to be immediately captured, laying in a bed in tight quarters. As he moves away from the bed, he is asked by a digitized voice to “wake up.”
On April 16, 2020, Joji released his third single from his upcoming album, “Gimme Love.” Produced alongside Bekon & The Donuts (Kendrick Lamar, SZQ), this track is different compared to Joji’s past records; opening with a darker, lo-fi electronic instrumental, the tune transitions to feature fast, clapping snares and droning synthesizers, then ends with a climactic instrumental arrangement. The song, according to Joji, can be split into two parts, which was an intentional aspect employed by Joji. In an interview with Billboard’s Chelsea Briggs, Joji commented: “Back in the day, I feel like you had a favorite part of a song, and now that’s not really a thing anymore…So I thought it would just be nice to kind of have a song that’s long and in two parts.”
Gimme, gimme love / Gimme, gimme love / Gimme, gimme love / Gimme, gimme love when I’m gone / When I’m gone / Gimme, gimme love / Gimme, gimme love / Gimme, gimme love / Gimme, gimme love when I’m gone / When I’m gone / Swinging out front, let me inside / Playing my song into my sides / It hurts, I can’t lie, remember those times / I fought to get out? I want to get out / Those pictures so clear, they fade in my mind /You leavin’ me here with ashes and fire / These people don’t heal, these people don’t feel / These people aren’t real so make me this deal / Won’t you gimme, gimme love / Gimme, gimme love / Gimme, gimme love / Gimme, gimme love when I’m gone / When I’m gone / Gimme, gimme love / Gimme, gimme love / Gimme, gimme love / Gimme, gimme love / when I’m gone / When I’m gone / Look into your heart and let me know / Do things turn black and grey as they go? / When I’m far too gone, can you show me love? / Give me love / (Ooh) / (Ooh) / (Ooh) / (Ooh) / Caught in a river of rockers and dreams / Oh, will you keep up with me? / Everyone’s looking for someone to hold / But I can’t let you go / (Ooh) / (Ooh) / (Ooh) / (Ooh). (Lyrics, Gimme Love by Joji).
Again, Joji released a dramatic video, directed with Andre Donoho, that aided in the song’s popularity. It was inspired by the world-recognized television show, The Office. Joji shared about the foundation of this video: “For the video and the song, I went off this quote from The Office… They said something like, ‘I wish we knew when we were living in the good old days instead of finding out later…’ We see very clearly that even when we’ve completed what might be our life’s work, those moments might mean absolutely nothing knowing what you sacrifice to get there.”
The video is shot in a similar spliced-documentary style filming as The Office and begins with Joji working in an office setting as a scientist; he is frustrated as he attempts to transition to becoming an astronaut blasting into space. The video portrays the psychological and physical need to escape, which Joji describes has been one of the stronger themes of the album.
Reviews regarding the new track praised Joji’s artistic expression. “The notable juxtaposition between the dynamic production and Joji’s pained vocals soon gives way to a half-point shakeup that is even more pronounced in the accompanying video, which strays the line between high art film and cinematic production. The latter half of ‘Gimme Love,’ with its sweeping angelic vocal layering and gentle acoustic strumming, feels like a testament to the otherworldly R&B Joji has staked his life on. Breathtaking, heart-rending, and cathartic in one fell swoop,” said Ones To Watch.
Joji’s achievement on this single was most notable: less than twelve hours after it released the music video had amassed over 1.9 million views on YouTube.
The most recent single released by Joji, “Daylight,” came out on August 6, 2020 in collaboration with Diplo. Inspired by today’s lack of daylight, Joji reported that “It might be nice for people to hear a song about daylight, especially when we don’t get as much of it as we used to.”
Wide awake, getting half past zero / It’s getting heated so I leave the windows open (leave the windows open) / Preoccupied with a late night B-roll / Right now, laying here alone is heaven (here alone is heaven) / And I’ve been a hero / Helpless / I’m in hell / And I’ve cried / Up and down in these hallways / Blamed myself / Bad luck, I don’t wanna be home at midnight / Sun’s up, I don’t really wanna fight the daylight / I don’t care if you moved on / I’m not laying in bed with a f***** up head / I’m not laying in bed with a f***** up / Sun-dried on the backyard patio / Drunk eyes / ‘Cause I didn’t give it a home run / Yeah, yeah / You’re hiding on the FM radio / I sing along just to sing my thoughts at someone / Yeah, yeah / And I’ve been a hero / Helpless / I’m in hell / And I’ve cried / Up and down in these hallways / Blamed myself / Bad luck, I don’t wanna be home at midnight / Sun’s up, I don’t really wanna fight the daylight / I don’t care if you moved on / I’m not laying in bed with a f***** up head / I’m not laying in bed with a f***** up…. (Lyrics, Daylight by Joji).
The video, which is directed by Munachi Osegbu, is an alternative to the usual melancholy tone Joji presents – Instead, it is a vibrant and fun music video that portrays the artists (both Joji and Diplo) bizarre sense of humor. The duo are acting as studio assistants on the set of an elderly boyband’s music video. Throughout the product, both artists can be seen failing in their tasks, derailing the entire shoot and gaining unwanted attention from the director. Following ongoing torment from the extremely tanned and waxed director, the pair become rebellious, breaking into the wardrobe department and wreaking havoc on set.
Interestingly enough, the video again draws the common theme of space seen through Joji’s other videos. It ends with Joji waking up, wrapped up in a space blanket, on an uninhabited desolate land.
Nectar will be released on September 25, 2020 through 88rising., with distribution by 12tone Music.
Earlier this month, Joji personally released the track list for his highly anticipated new album. Many of his top singles are included on the record. Plus, it includes several new tracks with featured artists Omar Apollo, Lil Yachty, Rei Brown, Benee, and Yves Tumor.
Joji is more than a singer – His dedication to depicting unique visual interpretations of his lyrics offer his audience the ability to use their creative thinking to understand the expression he is portraying. His production style, which often juxtaposes contrasting sounds, brings light to a new era of music.
Check out the new song Gates to the Sun here.