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Released: 2024

Label: Twenty Nine Music Group

Featuring: YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Conway the Machine, Jelly Roll, Symba, DMX, Logic, Twista, Nefertitti Avani

Remember when we all wept to the beats of Joyner Lucas’ introspective masterpiece ‘I’m Not Racist’? Well, buckle up pop music aficionados, because our man Lucas is back with another album to rock your sonic world. “Not Now I’m Busy” is the latest oeuvre from this rap poet, packed to the brim with 17 tracks that weave Joyner’s signature candid storytelling with fresh, pulse-pounding beats.

Known for collaborations that challenge norms and ignite the charts, Lucas has teamed up with industry heavy-weights like YoungBoy Never Broke Again, Conway the Machine, and the undeniable Logic for this album. But this isn’t just a star-studded affair, the album also features the soulful timbre of Symba and Nefertitti Avani, promising a medley of soundscapes that is both expansive and rooted in hip hop ethos.

Released under the Twenty Nine Music Group in the year 2024, this album encapsulates the essence of Lucas’ artistry. From catchy tracks like ‘Put Me On’ and ‘I’m Ill’, to the emotionally charged ‘Fake Promises’ and ‘When I Need Love’, Lucas emphasises the variegated constants that define him – an echo of raw honesty, resonant lyrics, and the gorilla glue that binds it all together – his indisputable talent.

So let’s get into it. From the stinging account of ‘Three Little Pigs’ to the self-reflective ‘How Much Do You Love Me?’, we’re breaking down the album “Not Now I’m Busy” by Joyner Lucas.

1 Put Me On

The line, “This the type of shit to blow the speakers out your Nissan”, encapsulates his high-octane, infectious energy that dares listeners to crank it up. Drawing from his own story of struggle and triumph, Lucas skillfully integrates his narrative of resilience into the song, creating a poignant commentary on his rise to fame, as reflected in the verse, “Ever since a youngin, always knew one day I’d be on”. He challenges complacency, honing in on the significance of personal growth, with a potent punch at the status quo, “Funny, I’m thinkin’ it’s prolly the women that make all these niggas complacent”. Not one to be boxed in, Lucas asserts his creative liberty with, “This oughta be the best version of me when they want me to be stuck in a box”, signalling the ushering of a new era in his artistic journey.

2 I’m Ill

Lucas fiercely asserts his individuality with memorable lines like “I’m not a human, I’m half demon or ET and them,” effectively capturing his otherworldly determination and unique musical prowess. The rawness of the lyrics, such as when he fearlessly declares “Fuck the world, I got a reason to take the condom off”, not only encapsulates his hardened outlook but also underlines his unabashed candor. The recurring motif of the ‘beat within his heart’ symbolizes his inherent passion and relentless dedication to his craft. Meanwhile, moments of introspection, notably the verse “I got a lot of evil heatin’ up inside of me, They say I’m crazy, but I know that’s how I gotta be,” further nuances the song with the admission of the toll Lucas’s defiance takes on him personally.

3 Waiting On This

With bars like “You don’t know how long I been waitin’ on this,” Lucas encapsulates the struggle of years spent grinding in the shadows, only to be met with irrational opinions from those who haven’t put in the same degree of work. With the lyrical assertion, “If you was me you wouldn’t work this hard,” he dismantles the naivety surrounding success, underscoring the difference between imagined scenarios and reality. The razor-sharp verse “I keep to myself if that’s what it takes me,” demonstrates Lucas’s resolve, refusing to be swayed by external pressures, distractions, or detractors. In essence, ‘Waiting On This’ serves as a biting commentary on the journey to fame and fortune, honing in on the ambition, resilience, and sheer determination required to make it in the cutthroat world of the music industry.

4 Broski

Confronting vulnerability head-on, Lucas opens up about a heartfelt conversation he shares with an old friend who appreciates his success and vows to have his back, always. Amidst all the appreciation and admiration, there’s also a simmering tension. Lucas’ friend, battling financial woes, hopes for some of Lucas’ wealth, leading the track to take a surprising turn as their relationship dramatically frays. The verses are peppered with impactful lines, but one of the most striking is, “You always said, ‘If they don’t fuck with you, they will eventually.” Embedded within this line, Lucas captures his relentless perseverance, a tenacity hardened by rejection, eventually leading to his place in the rap game.

5 Fake Promises

With lines like “I just kinda wish that you wasn’t so superficial, / To keep it real, I feel like that mentality don’t even fit you.” He offers a counter-narrative to a culture of temporary satisfaction, urging the listener to aspire for more than just material possessions. “Fuck a Chanel bag, I’ll put you onto buyin’ land” he suggests, an unambiguous endorsement of long-term vision over instant gratification. This track is not just about calling out one-sided promises, but also about encouraging self-worth, demonstrating Lucas’ ability to articulate thoughts on significant topics with eloquent lyricism. Yet, the strongest narrative comes at the end when he insists, “I know that you’ll be doin’ better if you only knew more,”— a call to action for self-enlightenment and empowerment.

6 When I Need Love

“Who can I run to, to share this empty space?”, Lucas plaintively asks. The line encapsulates the song’s overarching theme of loneliness and seeking solace. His verse, “Couldn’t love you ’til I loved me first, Had to learn that love means work,” is a poignant confession of self-growth and realizing the importance of self-love before being able to fully commit to someone else. This autobiographical narrative is drenched in remorse, hinting at Lucas’ own relationship setbacks. He yearns for a bridge back to a lost connection, but the question remains, is this connection salvageable or is it a mere figment of nostalgic longing?

7 Cut U Off

Features: YoungBoy Never Broke Again

Lucas reveals raw confessions about outgrowing people in your life with a hard-hitting line: “I can tell they switchin’ when I read the signs, Ain’t too many left in my circle, had to re-design”. As he raps about the unease of transitioning and the hardship of letting go of toxic relationships, we’re offered a window into the cumbersome side of success. The heavy-hitting beat coupled with the anguished lyrics create a jarring contrast, mirroring the dissonance that comes with personal growth. It’s this rehabilitation of his circle, this painful but necessary ‘cutting off’ that Lucas candidly addresses in the song, making it an anthem for anyone going through a similar journey.

8 What’s That?

You can’t help but feel the hunger and determination in the lyric, “Worked too hard just to turn back now / If they don’t like me, that’s too damn bad.” It’s an anthem of defiance, announcing his hard-earned dominion in the game. Lucas’s contemplation on wealth and his consequential taxation woes – “I made too much money last year / Uncle Sam took half of my bread” – is a striking reflection on the bitter-sweetness of success. The line, “I don’t wanna be in no relationship / I don’t need no one playing with my head,” underscores Lucas’s focus on his hustle, rejecting emotional entanglements as distractions.

9 Sticks & Stones

Features: Conway the Machine

Conway, with lyrics as hard-hitting as “My releases is your financial threat, substantial checks”, bares his achievements in the game with equal parts of pride and defiance. On his part, Joyner’s verse, examining his own ambivalent relationship to fame, culminates in a resounding line: “But would you walk away from 50 million or be Dave Chappelle?” The track is an insightful observation of the alluring yet treacherous nature of success in the music industry, delivered with the candid candor that Lucas is renowned for. It’s a weighty reflection on the struggles and victories that define their journey to the top, masterfully narrated through biting lyrics and unflinching authenticity.

10 Best For Me

Features: Jelly Roll

Joyner Lucas, joined by Jelly Roll, dives into the harsh realities of watching a loved one battle drugs. A powerful verse puts the spotlight on the issue: “I never thought I’d see the day that you let addiction ruin your life / Everyone callin’ that shit a disease and you makin’ feel like you in the right.” The track deftly interweaves feelings of betrayal and sorrow with the grit of battling demons, and it leaves listeners pondering the challenging question Lucas presents: “Tell me, is it really love if you have to ask if they’ll stay?” A masterclass in lyricism and storytelling, “Best For Me” is undoubtedly a standout in Joyner Lucas’s discography.

11 I Didn’t Go

Features: Symba, DMX

With Lucy’s defiant lines, “Either you play the game or the game plays you / And if you don’t get the picture, nigga, change angles,” the song dives into the dichotomous nature of struggle and success. Lucas’ lyrical genius shines as he traverses from his past’s grittiness—plain cable and project windows—to his current day luxuries. Lamenting the perennial battle of authenticity and fame, Lucas addresses derisions, racial prejudice, and personal trials with a steely resolve. A highlight is the line, “I’m an overthinker that over-plans. You still throwin’ haymakers, praying and hope it lands,” demonstrating the tension between a meticulous approach to life and the unpredictability of adversity. The song cultivates raw emotion, solidifying its place as a standout on ‘Not Now I’m Busy.’

12 Three Little Pigs

Expertly dropping pop culture nods, Lucas unifies the rhyme with a casual storytelling flair: “there were three little pigs, they was all grown up. And they were drinkin’ some hot coffee, and eatin’ donuts.” This isn’t your typical bedtime story, Lucas adds layers of racial and class issues over the fairy tale’s scaffold. Punctuated by the grim line, “Because the color of they fur made some believe that they was bad,” he critiques society’s prejudice against the marginalized. Lucas goes further, giving a fierce voice to the oppressed–the wolves in this narrative–counteracting societal presumption with self-preservation: “And he was real scared ’cause he knew what the pigs about. So he refused to get out and started speedin’ to his house.” Ultimately, Lucas’s “Three Little Pigs” subverts expectations, his lyrics spinning a familiar children’s story into a chilling commentary on police brutality and racial profiling.

13 24 hours to live

In lines like “Take from the rich and then give to the poor, give them the shit that they couldn’t afford”, he echoes the urgency of a modern-day Robin Hood, while “Strap on a vest then go kill all my enemies” underscores a relentless fight for survival. The provocative query Lucas repeats throughout, “What would you do?” triggers self-reflection, pushing us to rethink our values and actions in the face of looming death. Lucas articulates a powerful, dystopian vision of time running out, making “24 hours to live” a hard-hitting installation in his album ‘Not Now I’m Busy’.

14 Still Alright

Features: Logic, Twista

The lyrics delve deep into his psyche, throwing light on his challenges, aspirations, and the mechanics of his meaningful grind, an experience that resonates with many. A palpable poignant line in the track, “I thought I was ready, it really wasn’t my time,” lays bare the artist’s tenacious drive for success, exhibiting his graceful acceptance of failures and clear sight of his destination. Through this pivotal confession, Lucas encapsulates the ups and downs of a musical journey, paying homage to the pursuit of dreams. The song closes not on a note of despair but positivity, implying that despite all trials, he’s ‘still alright’.

15 Seventeen

In the song, he impressively melds his tale of climbing the socio-economic ladder with a reflective view on the vices that came along. The lyrics are a homage to his grind, the gritty path that led him from the blocks to the top, whilst spitting fire against his detractors and maintaining an unending hustle spirit. It’s an intriguing and impactful insight into Joyner Lucas’s journey, where he conveys the challenging dynamics of his past and present life, and the ever-busy nature of the grind, wrapped up in a catchy beat with in-your-face lyricism.

16 How Much Do You Love Me?

He sets the tone with the line, “If I put how much I love you on a scale, it’ll probably break” and shouldn’t we all be floored? Lucas unpacks thaumaturgical love scenarios; he’d outswim his physical limitations to save his love from a deserted island or even cease to breathe if she were to disappear. And if that ain’t love, then what is? He professes devotion so massive it could eclipse him, “Probably love you more than I love me, and that shit kinda dangerous”, but he doesn’t waver. It’s this high-stakes emotional gamble that makes the song so powerful; it’s a raw exposition of love, vulnerabilities and all.

17 Not Now I’m Busy

Features: Nefertitti Avani

Lucas’s opening verse, “The person who I killed was the old me,” catapults us into the song’s core theme – his metamorphosis from past to present. He’s shedding the skin of his former self, torn between regret and release. The intensity ramps up as Lucas reveals, “The old me got fucked over… And I realized that I was lost and couldn’t be found / And I needed to heal, I just didn’t know how.” This graphic confession underscores his commitment to personal evolution, even if it means bitter confrontation. Avani’s refrain, “Not now, I’m busy,” on cue flashes the Do Not Disturb sign, signalling Lucas’s unabashed withdrawal from interruptions like ambiguity and past baggage. It’s a haunting ode to vulnerability, yet equally a badass anthem for personal growth.

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