Transforming a career from a famous YouTube personality screaming in a pink suit to a well respected rhythm and blues artist is quite a feat, possibly only achieved by George “Joji” Miller. His debut album “Ballads 1” reached number one on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop album chart and number three 3 on the Billboard 200, and he released his second studio album Nectar on September 25. His first single “Will He” set the bar high, and Joji has dropped consistent bangers ever since. Thumbnail from Tick Tock music video.
Before George’s days with record label 88rising, he was still releasing music alongside questionable comedy videos on YouTube. On his channel “TVFilthyFrank” he posted comedy skits as Pink Guy: a character as offensive and vulgar as possible as a means to mock this type of behavior. Pink Guy was responsible for making the original Harlem Shake video back in 2013 as well as Human Cake. Pink Guy released his first album “Pink Season” in January 2017, reaching number 70 on the Billboard 200 with songs like “STFU,” “Fried Noodles,” and “Gay 4 Donald.” “Fried Noodles” contains lyrics too explicit to publish here like ones comparing his anatomy to “..Americans. Too fat, but dangerous.”
Hidden on “Pink Season” between “Please Stop Calling Me Gay” and “I Will Get a Vasectomy”, the track “We Fall Again” Previewed Pink Guy’s transformation into Joji. This song wasn’t very popular, only getting 2 million views compared to 71 million for “STFU.” The song takes an entirely different tone, refraining from the aggressive beats and vocals and instead using a beat combining snare drums and ukulele, with George singing in his now well-known style.
Later that year, George uploaded his final video, followed by his song “Will He” as a part of his extended play “In Tongues.” Months later he posted a statement on Twitter explaining the end of TVFilthyFrank and Pink Guy due to “serious health conditions” including throat tissue damage and neurological conditions, and a lack of interest in producing this type of content.
Renewed as Joji, “Nectar” takes a brighter tone than “Ballads 1,” which featured a lower pitch and darker visuals. While “Ballads 1” was known for its signature melancholy, the album slowly fades like a lovers’ quarrel. “Nectar” features Joji’s singing voice in full force, and more mature themes carry the album.
“Gimme Love” is featured on the track, and shows a great example of the change in mood between the albums. The song beckons for love and attention, similar to “ATTENTION” on “Ballads 1.” The difference in execution between the songs is clear, however. “Gimme Love” focuses on reminiscing on a relationship positively, while “ATTENTION” communicates the timidness and hesitation going into one.
“Tick Tock” is one of the most stylistically pleasing songs of the album, discussing how time constantly moves by, regardless of whether or not you’re ready. The music video is a collage of b-roll, with Joji wasting time smelling flowers, checking his phone, and shoving his face with food. The song ends with him praying for time to slow down, in vain.
On “MODUS,” derived from ‘Modus Viviendo’ meaning “an arrangement allowing people or groups of people who have different opinions or beliefs to work or live together,” Joji describes the pressures placed on artists to fit into the mold of a pop star. He compares music producers to “programmers.” Meaning producers almost program artists to be the image they need to make money.
Joji’s growth between the two albums is not easy to achieve, since music producers encourage sticking into a mold to maintain the same audience. George has changed throughout his career, from “Filthy Frank” to the melancholy themes of “Ballads 1,” and “Nectar” continues to evolve George as a person and an artist.