Review: Jo’De BOY uses his life to inspire others on “8: New Beginnings”

I’m no fortune teller but one thing I can assure you is that if you continue to live you will experience both highs and lows. Often times when the low points come it can be tough to navigate through them and be able to attain the good again. This was once the case for Jackson, MS based lyricist Jodeci Mayfield a.k.a. Jo’De Boy.

I went without for the longest. Whether it was needing shelter from eviction. Needing food cause of lack of money. No transportation being without a vehicle and having to walk a lot. I was going through relationship problems, not knowing how to communicate from dealing with. What I was going through affected me and I suffered from suicidal thoughts. – Jo’De Boy

Needless to say Jo’De was able to overcome these issues and keep pushing forth. Instead of allowing his life to end he now finds himself in a position to help others through his music. “I wanted the message with my new music to be finding yourself through pain. Not giving up can become freedom and finding true happiness within yourself. GOD, PAIN PATIENCE, and FAITH are all key to receiving your growth.” These words from Jo’De ring evidently true on “8: New Beginnings” as he wears his heart on his sleeve in the music. Being that it is his first official release since 2015’s “God’s Prophet” its fitting that so much is packed inside of the project.

The 3 year hiatus Jo’De has gone through is the first topic addressed as we kick off “8: New Beginnings”. On the intro, “Where The Album Voicemails”, we hear a few of Jo’De’s homies hilariously addressing the delayed status of the project. For an album that can often be very serious in it’s tone the skit is very amusing. It leads us perfectly into “New Beginnings Intro”. This is the first time we hear the poetic narration from Amanda Furdge. She does an amazing job helping to structure the album. With it being so lengthy it does help to keep the focus on the tone of the music each time she appears. The song follows and is a mix of both hype energy and a message of positivity.

“Reflection In The Mirror” is up next and is our first emotional journey of the album. It’s title is a good representation of the introspective content of the record. Backed by Ashley K., essentially it addresses some of his pitfalls that have come over the past few years. There are records on this project that give insight into some of the hurdles mentioned on “Reflection”, but this song in particular is perfectly positioned to give us a glimpse at some of the pain Jo’De carries with him before delving deeper. Think of it as an introduction into this side of his artistry for anyone checking him out for the first time.

Amanda Furdge’s voice returns in a frantic manner, warning Jo’De to be a leader and not follow down the wrong path. This leads into an album standout “Ju City Mentality/To Live & Die In The Jack”. It gives us a retrospective look at some of Jo’De’s “wilder” days running the streets of Jackson. While the place we affectionately know as “Ju City” may not be as rough as say, Compton or Chicago, there is a fair share of trouble to get into. This is the theme here and its executed to perfection. The two-part single is a definite must listen.

“Lost Soul” is next up and also strikes me as one of the albums best tracks. It puts us into the other, less glorified, side of the lifestyle potrayed on the previous record. His flow is very precise here as he speaks on some of the losses caused by a street lifestyle. Certainly it is another personal favorite of mine.

The tone then shifts a bit to one more universally relatable, being broke. That feeling of working as hard as possible only to still come up short is one that he frames on “Broke As I Am”. Jo’De Boy’s way of bringing a perspective of someone lacking in such a consumerism based culture is poignantly stated. This single, while not as high on my favorites list, is one I could see being a signature track for him due to it’s relatable feel. A similar vibe is brought on “Me and Myself” though not as particular in its focus on being broke. The latter is more about the lonely feeling that can come from being in such positions that Jo’De has been in throughout the course of his life, including lack of funds.

A familiar hook interpolated from an Outkast classic drives “Get Up Get Out and Get Something”. The subject matter is a bit straightforward, not allowing yourself to wallow in pity during bad times. It’s a well needed message though and one that is placed well after the prior two track’s more sad vibes.

Yung Core joins Jo’De Boy on the most emotional record from “8: New Beginnings”. Titled “Gone 2 Soon”, its a track about dealing with the loss of a loved one. Of course we have all been in this position of pain at one point or another and Jo’De illustrates how it can feel here. Not an easy task to put yourself back into that mindset of dealing with loss but its one he pulls off well from a musical standpoint. He ends the track with a poem about the feeling of beginning to cope with the same losses he focused on in the song which leads us perfectly into “Pain Don’t Last Forever”. The two songs go hand and hand as it evokes the feelings of dusting yourself off from the bad hand life can deal us and appreciating the lessons from it.

Things take a turn for some less personal, but equally potent music as we get to “Honeymoon Stage”. Alongside Gentrae Rogerz the track is a pure love song. As the title indicates it exudes the most positive of feelings towards love. Not a bad change of pace as it doesn’t allow one particular tone to envelope the album.

The next two tracks offer the most celebratory vibe of all contained on “8: New Beginnings”. First is “Tables Turn”, which is aimed at all the people close to him who may have switched up along the way. The production is very jazzy and fits Jo’De’s face-paced rap style. “Up Now” is the most club-ready song on this project as the energy is infectious from the first words spoken. “Up Now” is another of the top tracks of the entire set in my opinion.

Love returns as the album’s lead emotion for Jo’De as we approach the back portion of the album with “All About You”. This isn’t the honeymoon phase here though, with the topic being the challenges of being in a relationship that may not be the best but one that he can’t seem to put an end to. Can’t speak for all the listeners out there but I for one could definitely relate to it.

“Baby Don’t Cry” follows and is as well-written a song as one can find. Over a soulful beat sampling 112’s “Cupid”, a somber mood is set by Jo’De as he addresses love’s ups and downs. He doesn’t necessarily approach the record as a boyfriend speaking to his woman, but rather as an advisor…an inner-conscious so to speak to help her push forward in life. I love the perspective with which it was created. It is a very well executed.

Another song in my favorites from “8: New Beginnings” comes next in “Still In Love With You”. On it Jo’De and D. Passion link up for a song that literally celebrates love and the act of being proud of it. This is the only song on the set that can be classified as a clear “love song” but doesn’t necessarily sound like one. The upbeat vibe and extremely catchy bridge/hook combo makes this one a song that I find myself listening to more so than the other records on the album.

Up next is a collaboration with Jones called “I’m Free”. A soulful sample on production and a hook inspired by Stevie Wonder’s “Knocks Me Off My Feet” makes the record work well. The hopeful feeling of this record is discernible, making it a track I can see improving someone’s mood on a bad day. As it ends we get our last appearance from Amanda Furdge who once again ties things together with ease with her spoken word on life’s peaks and valleys.

The last song on the project also carries the distinction as the most lengthy one. “Direct Message 3” is essentially a 9 minute long venting session for Jo’De. Over production that switches throughout the track he gives an onslaught of bars the whole way. If you don’t necessarily want to check out the whole project this record is a great representation of what “8: New Beginnings” represents. It is a fine choice to close the album.

All things considered it is tough to find a major flaw with “8: New Beginnings”. Jo’De possesses an immense talent of putting his own personality and soul into the music. His flow is never boring, though at times he can be a bit quick in his pace making some lines harder to catch. The subject matter throughout is never lacking and is always a valuable message that the listener can apply to themselves. If anything I would say the project is too long at 18 tracks but there are no songs that feel like filler singles. Personally though I do think it may have been better served as a two part release due to the short attention span of the culture currently.

Jo’De Boy has been working for years but I truly think 2018 is a year in which he will become much more heralded for his efforts. The album is one of the more complete projects from front to back to be released in the past few years and arguably the best of this year thus far. I highly recommend it.

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