The lead single from his forthcoming debut album, BALLADS 1.

In 2018, there’s no genuine conventional come-up. In a DIY culture, artists wear multiple hats in order to develop awareness and a following with the hope of converting that hustle into dollars: they are rappers, sound engineers, producers, marketers, personalities, social media mavens, etc. In 2018, there is no conventional route–just a sea of amateurs sprinkled with success stories.

So it shouldn’t come as a shock that the burgeoning lofi emo artist hailing from the 88rising camp, home to Rich Brian and Keith Ape, Joji, born George Miller, hasn’t enjoyed a traditional musical ascent. But don’t assume that his glow-up is generic for today’s age–Joji takes this irregularity ten-steps further.

In early 2013–amid the devastating end to fan favorite 30 Rock–existed the seedlings to today’s robust YouTube star industry. One meme and video, however, seemed to redefine what “going viral” meant: “The Harlem Shake”. Created by YouTube comedian Filthy Frank, this sensation took over the world with its idiosyncratic, easily replicable sequence and dance set to Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” EDM track, which reimagined the absurdity of a dance track’s “drop”. We all remember “The Harlem Shake” dance–everyone from members of USA Today to the LeBron James-lead championship Miami heat offered their rendition. None of this is news. What is surprising, however, is that the mind behind this viral craze, Filthy Frank, didn’t leverage this notoriety for continued YouTube fame; he leveraged it for a career-altering pivot. His name? Joji.

Seeing how Filthy Frank was viewed simply as comedic character hellbent on putting a smile on his viewers’ faces, removing the pink onesie and sophomoric antics in favor of a emotionally-inclined emo artist wasn’t the easiest transition. However, with the help of his 88rising camp and astute branding, Filthy Frank cocooned into Joji with the release of his rookie EP, In Tongues–a six-track offering.

Home to hits like “Pills” and “Demons”, In Tongues was a brave debut for the almost 26-year-old artist. It harbors no similarities to his YouTube alias whatsoever. The stark contrast painted between the two characters is akin to being elated by Jim Carrey’s Ace Ventura and horrified by his thriller, The Number 23. Drenched in emotional brooding and minimalist production, In Tongues strongly introduced the musical side of George Miller, and effectively untied the comedic cloak that had been hindering his artistic expression and exploration.

Almost one-year removed from In Tongues’ release, fans know who Joji is, have become accustomed to his melancholic aesthetic, and have separated Filthy Frank from the musical hat that Miller has more favorably donned. They’re ready for more. This musical establishment was generally met with praise and intrigue, inducing curiosity for further Joji projects.

Today, the “Will He” artist has issued the first single, “Slow Dancing in The Dark”, from his official debut album, BALLADS 1. While a release date is still pending, this poignant song serves as a reminder of how far George Miller has come from Filthy Frank to become Joji.

Watch the music video for “Slow Dancing in The Dark” below: