Atlantic

First impressions go a long way in any situation, and give a sense of what a person, place or thing is made of and what can be expected of them in future interactions. In hip-hop, a rapper's debut album provides them a chance to prove their worth and lay the groundwork for a foundation that is rooted in quality and substance, two traits that are present in any body of work to be marveled at. Newcomer Joyner Lucas is of that understanding himself, as the Massachusetts native puts forth a long player that is worth its weight in gold with his debut album, 508-507-2209.

The project serves as an introduction to get acquainted with the man behind the music and gives a transparent look into his checkered past. The Atlantic Records signee's debut begins with the boisterous number "Ultrasound," which finds him showcasing an array of flows over tumbling xylophones and heavy-handed drums, courtesy of producer by Decap. "What the fuck you mean? This is not allowed/Better calm it down/’Cause all you new niggas just watered down/I can see through you like a muthafuckin' ultrasound," Lucas barks, flexing his rhymes skills as he kicks off 508-507-2209 on an energetic note.

Basking in his newfound prosperity on "Lovely," the Worcester, Mass. rep takes pride in being able to have the simple luxuries in life, such as cash to purchase his son a gaming system and a Netflix account, but is quick to note that his lifestyle is by no means glamorous. Joyner positions himself as more of an everyman than a rap star at this point in his career.

The rapper gives listeners a glimpse of his potential as a storyteller throughout 508-507-2209, noting, "Somebody told me money rules the world, I know you heard that shit/Money's the root to all evil, blessings and murder shit" on "Keep It 100," a superb selection that traces the travel of a lone $100 bill, as it passes through the hands of strippers, drug dealers, clergymen, robbers and other characters. This trend continues with "Lullaby," a subdued offering that finds Joyner examining the bonds between a mother and child, a prostitute and an abusive lover, and a drug addict and narcotics, and how seemingly innocent relationships can sour or take a turn for the worse.

In addition to the lively compositions "FYM," which features a guest appearance from Mystikal, and the Stefflon Don-assisted heater "Look What You Made Me Do," Joyner Lucas's debut packs plenty of soulful moments, on which some of the album's most solemn moments occur. "Just Because" finds Joyner taking a page out of OutKast's playbook, sampling the duo's classic 1996 cut "Jazzy Belle," on which he laments the lack of passion in his relationship, while Snoh Aalegra delivers a soul-stirring performance on the bluesy "Way to Go," as Joyner reminisces on missteps made.

The greatest strengths in Joyner Lucas' artistry is his vulnerability and honesty, which shines through brightest on "Forever," an open letter that details the bitter feelings he had towards his unborn daughter prior to her birth and atoning for those thoughts while asking for her forgiveness. "I know you don't understand my words but you will eventually/And when you get older I hope you don't hold this shit against me," he rhymes, admitting to requesting that his daughter be aborted in what is one of the more transparent moments on 508-507-2209.

On the flip side, he touches on his unhealthy sexual tendencies with the track "Literally," a conceptual highlight that captures Joyner attempting to reason with his own penis. The song is deceptively brilliant. Joyner also serves up another sobering composition in The Cratez-produced "Sorry," which analyzes suicide from the perspective of the victim and their loved ones, and is packed with a display of emotion that is fully palpable beyond the music.

At the tail end of the emotional roller coaster that is 508-507-2209, Joyner Lucas brings the album full circle on "One Lonely Night," which greets listeners with classical piano keys, and Lucas crooning, "What you gon' do when the club close down/And the liquor runs out, and your all by yourself/What a lonely night/One lonely night," a standout track.

His first outing since his 2015 mixtape, Along Came Joyner, 508-507-2209 builds upon the buzz that project garnered and effectively stamps Joyner Lucas as one of the more thoughtful and cerebral talents to emerge as of late. With a mix of cocksure boasts, storytelling, conceptual risks and emotional depth, 508-507-2209 makes a strong case for being one of the best major label rap debuts of this year, setting the bar high as we anticipate what Joyner Lucas has in store for the next go-round.

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