Where Does Joyner Lucas Go From Here?


Joyner Lucas currently finds himself in a unique position, facing an opportunity to cement his position inside an entertaining hip-hop subsect. Which is to say, rappers who went toe-to-toe with Fox News pundits. Were he to accept Tomi Lahren’s recent offer, he’d find himself in esteemed company. 2 Chainz and Cam’ron both fared beyond admirably during their respective tilts with Nancy Grace and Bill O’Reilly; to this day, “U Mad?” has become a cultural staple. Now, in the wake of his controversial and viral single “Devil’s Work,” Joyner must ponder on a choice. Tomi Lahren offered the chance for a conversation, on or off camera, and given Joyner’s propensity for creating a viral moment, it would make sense for him to acquiesce.

For one, it would allow him to elaborate on his points in an unfamiliar setting; his music has often served poignant purposes, though he occasionally feels more provocateur than prophet. That’s not to cast judgment on his method, but such tactics will likely appeal to one’s pre-existing base. Should Joyner truly desire to manifest a change in perspective as “I’m Not Racist” once professed to do, he’ll have to speak directly to those holding oppositional views. Insulting someone is easy – convincing them, less so. Perhaps that’s why Lahren closed with the invocation of his own lyrics, though it’s difficult to read into her own motivations in reaching out. Could “common ground” really be her endgame? Of course, if Joyner doesn’t feel her validation is even worth a fart in the wind, he might simply shrug off the olive branch. Yet 2 Chainz, and Cam’Ron both bit the bullet and ultimately braved the Fox News Headquarters, brilliantly holding it down on behalf of hip-hop culture. Should Joyner follow suit, he’d have the opportunity to really cement some of his key arguments.

Still, there may very well be ramifications to such an approach. Some might balk at the idea at breaking bread with Lahren in the first place, given her own contentious relationship with hip-hop. Others might take issue with the politicization of Joyner, who has already proven divisive with the release of every “message-driven” song. Lest we forget, there are some who simply want to see Joyner “bar-out,” as he certainly has the talent for it. Unfortunately, he’s occasionally found himself saddled with the dreaded “C-Word 2.0” label (corny), with some feeling as if songs like “I’m Not Racist” and “Frozen” align him with the proverbial Children Of The Corn. Of course, musical taste is subjective and most certainly up for debate. Yet with ADHD set to drop before year’s end, this imminent discourse with Tomi Lahren will ultimately cast a socio-politically tinged shadow over the project’s rollout. Is being thrust into such a divisive spotlight beneficial to his musical career?

To immediately suggest so would be dismissive of Joyner’s artistic versatility. The man has proven time and time again to stand among the more technically proficient newcomers, though his more heavy-handed singles find him curtailing the flex-raps. Yet these days, simple “rappity-rap” is brushed off with a unenthused attitude, and while fans were pleased with his takes on “Gucci Gang” and “Bank Account,” it might not behoove him to exclusively stack ADHD with endless doses of lyrical dexterity. For that reason, abandoning his more socially-conscious stream would not necessarily be wise, though both stylistic variants occasionally end up at odds with one another. If you love the bars and bangers while disliking the messages, or vice versa, Joyner may prove to be a frustrating artist, especially where a cohesive project is concerned. So how does he manage to make each of his various skillsets shine in harmonious fashion?

As of now, Joyner doesn’t need much in the way of a rallying cry. He’s currently Grammy nominated, and his music tends to perform well upon release, at least numerically. A competitive tilt with Tory Lanez solidified him as a worthwhile lyrical sportsman, and his aforementioned discourse-to-be with Tomi Lahren proves he’s caught attention beyond the hip-hop zeitgeist. Yet few rappers have found themselves in such a conundrum, in which his stylistic versatility has cast a dividing line between his fans. Perhaps he oughta take a page out of Drizzy’s book, and line up a two-sided project, a la Scorpion. That way, those put off by a seemingly didactic message can enjoy their experience unimpeded. Conversely, those who feel unchallenged by the flagrant art of “BARS” can lose themselves in Joyner’s sociopolitical odysseys without being derailed by a sudden dose of 808s. That is, if people are still seeking cohesion in 2019. If not, then may Joyner’s two worlds collide in an explosion of streaming figures, hot takes, and Fox News invites.