Monsta X member Joohoney’s highly-anticipated sophomore solo mixtape 'Psyche', which comes two years after his last mixtape 'DWTD (Do What They Do)' is a deeply personal journey through the various facets of the rapper’s musical career and life.
Offering raw yet powerful lyricism wrapped up in punchy, stylish soundscapes, the seven-track production is as catchy as it is heartfelt. Opening with the anthemic 'Ambition', the multi-talented artist sets an unbeatable tone for not only the album, but his artistry in general. Packed with diverse musicality, the production moves from heavy bass and percussion in trap-EDM mix before switching effortlessly into a neo- soul sound – all elevated by Joohoney’s fierce, explosive delivery.
While funky, synth-tinged offering 'Dark & Cloudy' featuring vocalist Boa Kim (of Spica) sees the rapper confronting the struggles of his past - the vulnerability of song writing drenched in Kim’s breathy vocals- the low-key trap beat of “King” flips the switch as he moves from introspection to intimidation with his signature swag.
On his second mixtape, Joohoney sticks to what he knows best, refining his skill for rhythm-heavy, lyrically poignant music. But he doesn’t back down from experimenting with more bluesy, soul-influenced soundscapes.
Title track 'Psyche', which delves into the successes and failures that come with living life, takes a similar route to the intro track and builds from a trap production into a neo-soul.
However, compared to the vicious impact of 'Ambition', the title track falls flat sonically. Lyrically, Joohoney does manage to impress as he injects emotive elements that cleverly balance moments of euphoric self-confidence with the crushing reality of self-doubt.
Where 'Psyche' fails instrumentally, the mellow stylings of 'DIA' turn things around as layered guitars and slowed-down R&B sonics are at perfect odds with the rapper’s consistent flow. Emotive and aggressive, the track is a short, strong and the sturdy bridge into lead single 'Smoky', which sees Joohoney slip into the role of vocalist. With lyrics that strip back and dig deep right into the core of this global superstar’s heart-breaking loneliness, the stand-out track is as painful – thorns of nostalgia pricking with the yearning to return to childhood- as it is hopeful in the rapper’s promise to rise above the hate and overcome challenges.
Final track 'Wing Suit', featuring former 4TEN member and rapper TEM comes full circle in terms of sonics with confident, fast-paced delivery. Where it remains rather repetitive and ordinary with production, it makes up with TEM’s awe-inspiring feature as she reminds us to count our blessings; which is exactly what Joohoney proceeds to do by embracing the love that surrounds him leaving behind the loneliness that plagues throughout the production.
Overall, 'Psyche' offers listeners a glimpse into the various layers that make up Joohoney. Tracing stories, memories and experiences and simultaneously highlighting the rapper’s artistic growth, the sophomore record is a journal of emotional catharsis and professional advancements – encompassing his solo career, his identity as a member of Monsta X and simply Lee Jooheon - as the person he is and is likely to become in the future.
Words: Malvika Padin
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