Photo Credit: Jimmy Fontaine
Joyner as an artist has always been under-the-radar, presenting thought-provoking tracks like “I’m Not Racist” and garnering an audience willing to figure out the social commentary behind the lyrics. His debut album ADHD starts off with an introductory skit, “Screening Evaluation”, which sets up a narrative to create an awareness about mental health. Mirroring Eminem’s “Dr. West”, we see young Joyner go through the Rorschach test. Setting up the dark atmosphere for the rest of the story, we then see the psychologist berating Joyner for his condition when he gets one of the images wrong.
“I Lied” presents the story of how a person (in this case, Joyner), indirectly orchestrates his own downfall due to his habits. It is clear by now that Joyner Lucas has the ability to keep the listener’s attention with a mixture of being gritty and raw, with an everyman relatability that has put him on the map thanks to his breakout track “I’m not Racist.” Despite the overused themes of going-there-and-back-again, the song is entertaining, to say the least.
“ISIS” turns out to be a surprise, with Lucas and Logic collaborating after their beef that caused so much buzz around the industry. The track seems to have a pretty well-rounded three-act structure, with Joyner discussing the heavier aspects of dealing with ADHD, in perfect contrast with Logic’s lighter verses. Although the lousy beat often downplays the themes of conflict, resolution and growth, it’s a good song if you understand the meaning behind it.
“The War” is a sadly average-at-best attempt at discussing Joyner’s issues with dealing with relationships. His rapping ability certainly overshadows his vocal skills. Although, Young Thug’s verses provide a source of freshness to the rather dull track, it’s not enough to not skip the track within the collection of songs. While “I Love” tries to delve into the cheery side of Joyner, the inconsistent back-and-forth between vocal and rap is just sometimes unpleasant.
“Devil’s work” is by far the most intriguing song on the album, with Joyner discussing recent deaths in the music industry. His gritty and aggressive tone that we are familiar with blends well with the passion he intends to address the subject matter with. Although, maybe it should have been a single track released on its own, as it completely strays away from the overall narrative of the album. But again, who are we to decide how the storyteller tells his story? It’s an impressive track, regardless.
“Will” is a homage to Will Smith where Joyner often takes the places of Will’s starring roles and is hands down the most fun track of the bunch. It’s an interesting choice using the track for this album. The music video enhances the song and makes it an even more fun experience for the listener through its visuals. The rest of the songs are very similar and increasingly derivative of each other. Joyner’s loyal fan base understands that he can do far better than what he has produced here. What we have here is a series of hard-hitting tracks that include aspects of self-doubt, growth, and coming to terms with stardom. Although overall, this makes ADHD a dull affair for its collective mishmash and loss of direction throughout.