Combining a singular voice with a DIY hustle, Joseph Black is a self-made rapper, singer, and producer on a mission to make it. Supported by rich harmonies and piercing hooks, his sharp lyrics stay focused, raw and don’t shy from visceral emotion. The 21-year-old man vividly chronicles his traumas, heartbreaks, and triumphs. It’s a blend that’s already resonating with millions worldwide.
Black, a Duluth, Minnesota native grew up on welfare surrounded by drugs in a chaotic upbringing. There was a constant struggle to persevere and provide the fuel for his music. As for the kindling, an eclectic soundtrack informed his youth — a mixture of Eminem, Lil Wayne, and country that pointed him toward the twin powers of storytelling and melody. By 15, he was recording his own music, releasing one-offs and mixtapes sourcing beats off YouTube even while getting picked on for being small. At 18, he was done fighting both physically and mentally his way through school. Black dropped out and turned to the streets, where his new routine — an untenable juxtaposition of music daydreams and nocturnal mischief — would soon give shape to his art: soul filtered through the grit of urban life.
“I knew I had to choose a path,” says Black. “The day I decided not to go back to school, I told myself I gotta do something with this music thing. I gotta have something to live for. There’s a stereotype against people on welfare and I wanted to prove people wrong. I told myself I can either fold from that experience or use it to motivate me to be better — and that’s what I did.”
Sure enough, Black cracked the mainstream at age 21 with “(i hope you) miss me,” a painfully honest anthem for the brokenhearted released on Valentine’s Day 2020. Amid the spare trap drums and melancholic piano, the MC/singer rhymes, “Vulnerability, it never fit me,” and yet, he wears it so well. Though inspired by a real-life breakup, the track found new context out in the world — sparking a TikTok trend and landing in the Top 20 of Spotify’s Global Viral chart. Black hopes that his music helps others find solace since that’s what music does for him.
Now, with a bag of true-to-life street cuts, party jams, and — yes — more unfiltered melodic hits to be released, Black is on the verge of a breakout. As he puts it, “Because my music is personal, I progress every time I make a song — every track is better than the last one. My mindset is gonna take me straight to the top, and I’m gonna stay there. That’s just the way I think, work, and live."