Albums/Mixtapes, Features, Reviews

Review: International Joe brings the culture together on “Just Landed”

You know how they say it’s not what you know but who you know? It’s not a universal rule but there is certainly a lot to this idea. Even as you look into the community that is Hip-Hop there is a level of comradery that you can often find is incomparable. We live and breathe the culture if you are a truly a person who is a part of it. That type of feeling is palpable as you come across others who share this same love as you. From the listener, to the artist, to anyone who plays a role behind the scenes as you move throughout the sectors of the industry that infatuation with hip-hop only grows more.

This is even true on a more local level as you can find that not all rappers come in the same package. The TV may portray a vision of an artist draped in jewels, surrounded by expensive cars and beautiful women but this is not always the case. There have been several pleasant surprises from people not originally known as an artist. Kanye was notoriously unable to find a deal, being written off as a “producer rapper” before finally being able to drop his certified classic debut “The College Dropout”. Lil Baby never viewed himself as a rapper before being encouraged to do so by others upon leaving prison and finding his success. It’s these type of artists who find themselves with a combined love of the culture and in the position to be around the right industry heads that can often make large waves when they finally put it all together.

Enter International Joe, the Baton Rouge representative and all around musical hustler. As a man who has found himself imprinted in his respective rap scene as a producer, head of popular indie blog http://www.ThaAntidote.com, executive behind Real Profit Entertainment and much more, he has finally made the effort to step to the forefront with his debut LP “Just Landed”. He states firsthand that him being so interconnected to Baton Rouge’s Hip-Hop scene took him down this path of artistry: “I honestly met so many people and connected with so many people over the last 15 years with this music that I decided I should do a project. We had just released Sean Elliot, Bullet Jones, & B-Thone under Real Profit Ent in the last year and I felt like just to give things a different sound it might be time for me to drop something.  I’ve worked and produced for so many artists that I decided why not do a project. Doing music is easy for me. Working and putting together ThaAntidote.com in the last 5-6 years kind of turned me into a facilitator as well so between being that and a producer along with all the years of working with music I thought it would be dope to put together a DJ Khaled-esque project.”

What developed from the whole process is an album that I would consider to be a true experience of what Baton Rouge’s sound encompasses. The feature-heavy set kicks off with the title track “Just Landed”. The track pays homage to a Louisiana pioneer in Mannie Fresh with a flip of his introduction on Juvenile’s “Solja Rag” LP, “Ziggly Wiggly”. Live instrumentation adds to the original sound of the record as Natural makes an appeareance. This particular guest has added history as International Joe and Natural formed the Real Profit Entertainment venture as a unit. “The crazy thing is that Natural just got released from prison after being incarcerated for 3-4 years. He got released in like May and did the verse, he ran into some trouble with the laws again and went back in July. People tend to joke that he escaped from prison just to make sure he got on my album.”

The club and getting people on the floor is the obvious focus with one listen of “Let Me Do My Shit”. Dylan Cage, Spitta, Delwin The Krazyman and Bezo Luciano all appear and each artist fits perfect. It’s not the most creative record to be included on “Just Landed” but it serves it’s purpose with it’s infectious bounce.

“Match My Hustle” offers us more of an introspective vibe over brooding production from GussMakeMyBeats, who has done a lot of earlier work for Kevin Gates. I am always a bit of a fan of personal records and this one fits the bill. D Matic, GBA Haze & Bukkfast Game all continue the trend of well placed features.

At an instant a level of familiarity comes with “Freakin” as a classic Jodeci sample leads the way on the Hustla production. AU has already impressed me with his flow in the past and he shows up again to take this one to another level. Mocha shows up to represent the ladies in a major way on a song that definitely needed that type of presence. Ironically her feature was a bit of a treat for Joe himself. “Mocha was kind of a surprise. Mocha does interviews for me at ThaAntidote.com but nobody really knew she could rap. I heard the rumbling from a few people in-house but I had to see myself. I sent her the track and the next thing you  know the record was completed.” I’d love to see a video for this one.

International Joe takes us on a trip to his neighboring state on the Texas-influenced “Swangin”. The title is fitting as this one is definitely riding music that has that old school southern sound. Dylan Cage, Sean Elliot & the Lone Star State’s own EDF show up this time to set the vibes for the slow burning track.

The mood turns up on the aggressive “Up Shit”. Here International Joe calls on General Mark, Delwin The Krazyman & AU to get some things off their chest. Baton Rouge definitely has a long history of, well…simply put…fight songs. “Up Shit” is another entry that carries the same energy. You just never know when you may have to give somebody the “Nate Robinson” treatement. The following track “Ruger In My Pocket” with Bookie, 3D Natee & D Matic carries a similar vibe. If you’re about that action this was your protion of “Just Landed”.

Another standout record is “Light”. Mississippi’s Dolla Black takes the hook duty here and delivers with his baritone vocals. The record speaks of the journey to reach that “Light” that others may not always see in you. Joe Scott and Bullet Jones turn in verses filled with great lyricism while II Duce comes from a rap hiatus to show up for Joe based on their past relationship. International Joe states this record gave him “Rick Ross” vibes from the start and I gather a similar feeling.

“Time” allows for our first true R&B feature as Drea Kay takes the forefront. “I worked with Drea some years ago and recently started working again when I was recruiting personalities to our Antidote Network. Drea had really matured as an artist from the last time we had collaborated and was able to lace me with a great record.” Props go out DJ 4 Feva for his hypnotic keys on the production.

We get back to that core essence of Baton Rouge on “Get Up Off Me”. Tha GT & B-Throne trade bars over production by Playa Pizzle, who recently made the hit record “Money Maker” for 2 Chainz & Lil Wayne. “Keep It In The Studio” contains appearences from GBA Deke, GBA Haze, & Parktown Bone. I love the verses on this one as you can tell the things being said are authentic. Interestingly, the Soulja Slim-sampling beat is one that International Joe states he has been sitting on for 10 years.

The best word to describe “Rock A Bye” is BARS. The record carries more of an east coast, boom-bap vibe and the features reflect this. “I reached out to one of my Antidote staff members Jason Bourne (who recently passed back in March) who was holding down ThaAntidote.com Division in New York. He had recently introduced me to Kony Brooks and did an interview with Kony.  I had a chance to hear Kony freestyle at the end of his interview and was impressed. I reached out to Kony about doing the record and he laced me with that verse and hook. From there I reached out to possibly one of the best lyrical rappers I know personally in Mike Mass. I typically bring Mike Mass out to Baton Rouge every so many months to perform on behalf of ThaAntidote.com. I thought he would be perfect for this record and honestly he spit one of the hardest verses on the album. With such lyricists I wanted to add one more but someone from my city. From there I reached out to Young Gage who once again I’ve been knowing for a very long time since kids.” The end result of this one is a much needed offering of diversity on “Just Landed” and well placed.

Another feature that may be a bit surprising is popular media personality and ThaAntidote.com crew member Tubbi. She shows up on “Bout A Bag” and adds a lot of flair that many may not see coming. “Bout A Bag was actually the very first song I wanted to do with the album and ended up being one of the last songs I put together. It was a song that I had made in concept for awhile but couldn’t think of the right female rapper to do it. After a while I had a talk with my sister Tubbi and when I ran the song concept to where and played the track it turned into a hit real quick.” This one is ready for the CIty Girls on the remix.

“Who U Playin Wit” acted as the album’s lead off single. It was a perfect representation of what to expect as it is one of the catchier tracks on the set. Dylan Cage crafts a hook that is ready for the club scene while Lil One The Champ and BBE AJ also lacing the track. It’s still a standout although it has more age to it than the rest of the records on “Just Landed”.

We start to approach the end of the project with “Monetize”. The record is also produced by Dosha Burns and carries a similar vibe to “Rock A Bye” which he also crafted. GBA Haze and AG (who produces several records on “Just Landed” under his main moniker Hustla) do their thing as Oun P comes from New York to add some more range.

Things close with a confessional-style track in “Feel Me”. It is a track where International Joe and featured artists D Matic, Chen & Spike are able to speak out on some of the challenges they face as bosses in their own right. “I live my life as a go-getter and a boss who provides not just for myself but creating opportunities for those around me. I work and wear a lot of hats to avoid ever being broke or struggling at this point in my life. I still have a 9-5 job, own a business, run Real Profit Ent, & ThaAntidote.com.” The single represents this grind and makes it clear to the listener the level of determination these artists have.

GussMakesMyBeats gets the distinction of producing the album outro. It features a monologue from DJ Chilly Chill and he knocks it out the park. “Chill has always been a controversial person that I’ve been closely affiliated with but he’s always supported whatever it is that I’ve ever attempted to do and backed me 100%. He’s always come to support and always has spoken highly of me to whomever. I felt like he was one of the few people who’d genuinely finish out the album with the right words.” It’s a victory lap giving credit to everyone involved with the process of crafting this project. Essentially Joe receives his roses in real time.

All-in-all what International Joe is able to accomplish with “Just Landed” is a true testament to what the culture is supposed to be. He brings artists together, whether accomplished or literally not even known to be a rapper, and crafts a project that is vast and diverse yet true to the exact culture sector he helped to cultivate in Baton Rouge. To pull off such an elaborate project encompassing so many people is not something you see often on an indie level. To do it with such quality where as many songs have replay value is even more rare.

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