Boston MC, Joey B, is an artist who dedicates his life to the hip hop community. Whilst having undergone some serious mental and physical issues throughout his life, he takes on each hurdle with positivity and gratitude, honing his skill to make a mark on his legacy. He is on the rise amongst a growing community of phenomenal Massachusetts-based artists and is a member of the legendary hip hop group, Masstapeace, who consistently evolve and experiment with new levels of writing. He is currently working on a new record with the group while also branching out with all new sounds on his solo album, Closure, that will likely drop at the beginning of October this year.
We chat to Joey about his insane experience at SXSW, his work with Masstapeace, and how recent health issues have pushed him to embrace every opportunity. Ayla Dhyani writes.
You’re with a crew on tour at the moment. How’s that been so far?
Well, technically I’m not really a part of the tour. I’m going down to New Jersey to do a show with Tsu Serf and a couple of other cats, which is awesome. I’m speechless and it means a lot. It feels like things are finally coming around and people are finally starting to take notice.
You're also on the bill for the A3C conference this year. Tell us about that process.
Well, all of my Twitter followers made such a big stink to try and get me on the bill and the organisers sent me an email saying I had to do organise it in a specific way. So it pretty much turned into whoever could buy the most followers and get them to re-tweet it, which is so corny. But I know a promoter from Montana who got accepted for an official showcase, so he hit me up instantly because he saw my performance at SXSW and was digging it. So as soon as his showcase got accepted he called me. I’ll hopefully be going down with an amazing vocalist, Red Pages, which will bring something more to the show.
Have you been feeling the support from the fans?
Definitely. I’ve been getting a lot of love for a number of reasons. I’ve been struggling with some health issues recently. I was in remission from Crohn's disease for 16 years and recently went in for a physical and the next thing I know the doctors are sending me to specialists and shoving weird sh*t down my throat. So we’re getting to that point where it’s about quality versus quanitity – life-wise.
And how are you managing to juggle all those challenges? Have your priorities changed as a consequence?
I think it was actually one of the biggest pick-me-ups to be honest with you. I got into the mentality of “well, if I’m going to be sick, and have only a limited time left, I’m going to do everything that I can do.” I want to be like Tupac and have a billion tracks recorded. Everyone faces death, but it’s all about positivity. I’m 100% sure I’m going to get through this. I’m not worried about it, but it’s pushing me a lot more to just grind and hop on every opportunity.
How was your experience at SXSW?
It was pretty insane. On many levels. The kid who was supposed to go with me cancelled the night before, so I ended up going down by myself. The first day I was there, I literally walked into Statik Selektah on the block and ended up at a private house party with him that MTV was sponsoring. It was wild. We had Joey Bada$$, Statik, M.O.P., everybody you could think of. They literally had the whole street blocked off because it was such a big party and I got to meet so many people that I’ve been listening to since I was 19 years old. I ended up performing quite a few times. I got accepted for one showcase and then ended up doing 6 shows all up. It was amazing. It was a constant party over 6 days. I joked that none of the ‘s’s in SXSW stand for ‘sleep’ (laughs). It was also just a good step for me professionally. I met the promoter down there, and now A3C have accepted me as an official performer. Things are in motion.
And how did you first start working with Statik Selektah?
And aside for your solo projects, tell us about your work with Masstapeace.
Yeah, we've been rocking it hard. Our album is coming out around August (Tygastyle handles most of the business, so I just go along with whatever he says). But the album is crazy. It’s really raw. It has a 'Jedi Mind Tricks, underground hip hop' vibe. I’m also working on Closure right now, which is my solo album. That one is going to have more of a commercial sound to it, just to switch it up and keep evolving.
Any plans on coming out to Australia any time soon?
Yeah, I’m really working on it. I just applied for my passport, and I really want to hit Australia. We’re really tight with the Snow Goons too, and they want us to go over to Germany with them at some point. But I’d say even if Masstapeace as a group can’t get out there, it’d be dope for me to go out to Australia as a solo artist.
What moves you?
I’m an adrenaline junky. And so many people have doubted me over the years, but right now my adrenaline just rushes towards how far I can push my music. That’s what’s really moving me right now.