As I sit in the studio on Metropolitan Avenue in downtown Atlanta, I smile in quiet anticipation to meet Joe Stu and hear the new clips for his upcoming project Which Way Now?, released on December 11, 2016.
Three years ago Joe Stu teamed up with fellow hip hop producer, D.R.U.G.S., to release Wrong Turns in the Right Directions. “Gorilla” in particular is what got me hooked on this young man.
I take that back, it was him. His reflective essay, his educated mind, a testament to HBCU Clark Atlanta University, who was capable of making observations without judgements or endorsements. And Which Way Now? has once again proven his capabilities to blend art, emotion and academics all in one.
This time Joe Stu, again pairing up with long time partner D.R.U.G.S., goes in an existential direction, claiming inspiration from a dream journal he kept. Joe Stu presents the listener with all the different types of dreams throughout the album.
He covers the dreams of yesterday when we were little children, to how you can achieve living your dream; turning your pretend games into reality. Joe Stu also touches on not to be misled by the shimmering vanities of this world because a dream can easily turn into a nightmare.
Musically speaking Which Way Now? is a great follow up to the last project. There have been improvements and time put in that may have been overlooked on the first album. Joe Stu and D.R.U.G.S. do a fantastic job of keeping everything within a common message and theme, without making every song sound the same.
One of the personal touches they lay down is in the introductions of the songs. “Heart Keeps Pounding,” track 01, starts out with a recorded heartbeat, literally setting off the beat to the album, and as a testament to life. Taking it a step further, the release date falls on the maker’s date of birth, bringing everything full circle.
There are also some amazing featured artists that need to be noted such as Atlanta based producer, Yamin Semali.
One of Joe Stu’s characteristics that he should pride himself on is how well he works with other artists on the song. Instead of domineering just to have more attention, he shares space appropriately in order to bring more balance and complement the work as a whole instead of his own ego.
Through a melodically visual dreams and visceral lyrics, this album leaves the listener questioning their own dreams and reality, and asking themselves, “Which way now?”