On “After Hours,” the titular track of Theotis Joe’s debut LP, it only takes a few lines for the Philly hip-hop artist to distinguish himself from others in the rap pack. He’s hitting on girls at TGI Fridays, drinking margaritas at Copa Banana so strong they’ll “make ya pose for cameras,” and putting in work for the nappy dug out, willing to drive past Montgomery County for a hook-up, but all the while watching his speed because “these gas prices is a bitch.” Absent is the over-the-top braggadocio that’s become ubiquitous in most rap albums. He’s just a regular “Joe,” as it were. After Hours has a few moments of swagger, to be sure, but you get the feeling Joe is more interested in convincing himself he’s worth the spotlight than you. The album is a breezy listen, perfect for summertime and weekends out late. We caught up with Joe to play at little “Fill in the Blanks” in advance of his record release party at Silk City. It’s no TGI Fridays, but it’ll have to do.
The thing I felt most while recording “After Hours” was ... "Excitement and relief. The union [producer] Lance Davis and I formed to create this album was one of the greatest experiences of my life. It was a long haul due to time restraints, but quite effortless on the creative side of things.”
If you made me pick the biggest influence on my lyrics, it’d have to be ... “Kool G Rap. Not necessarily the style of rap, but that rapid machine-gun flow. He is often cited as one of the most influential and skilled MCs of all time. I’m all about tight rhymes and G Rap has multi-syllabic rhymes for days.
It’s Saturday night, clubs have closed. I’m still up. The place I’m heading after hours is ... “Emerald City on Second Street in Philly. Or, depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll go home to whip up some grub. Oh yeah! I’m tough in the kitchen.”
One thing people may not get about me from listening to my album is ... “I like to cook and go fishing as much as possible.”
Lots of rappers live in/rep Philly. A couple I think are phenomenal are ... “Black Thought and Hezekiah. Hezekiah is a solo MC I’ve known personally for several years.”
The last book I read is ... “ How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It truly helped me to develop a deep desire to master the principles of human relations.”
The last album that made a huge impact on me was ... “ Finding Forever by Common. The beats and rhymes were on point throughout the entire album.”
There are some sweet R&B flourishes on After Hours. An R&B artist I really love is ... “The late Marvin Gaye. I often kick back and relax to the smooth sounds of Marvin to take my mind off of all the hang-ups, let-downs, bad breaks and setbacks.”
One influence on my music you might not catch after a couple of listens is ... “Al Green. Yes, I know! He’s not a rapper, but he’s an inspiration to me, and a soulful songwriter.”
Wed., June 16
With Dirt Mansion + Zarinah
435 Spring Garden St.
PW's Music Issue 2014