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Jozeemo's True Identity

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East Durham rapper and longtime rabble-rouser Jozeemo claims that his latest LP, True Identity, is his last. Depending on who you ask, though, his once-budding career never really took off, anyway. A few years ago, he could have loosely benefited from Little Brother's trajectory and 9th Wonder's co-sign and connections, but things fell apart on every imaginable front. Since that disintegration, Jozeemo has mostly been reduced to an infamous WorldstarHipHop.com video of him smacking the crap out of some dude in parking lot, a string of raunchy sketches on YouTube, and malevolent Twitter rants aimed at former collaborators Khrysis, 9th Wonder and Phonte Coleman—all of whom are targeted in Jozeemo's self-directed music video for the diss track, "Steam." Maybe Jozeemo has a very sinister sense of humor, or maybe he truly feels back-stabbed and betrayed.

For all True Identity's tough talk and gun chatter, we also find a man who rejects his past's hazardous lifestyle—"thug, drug dealer, gang banger, shot caller, big baller," he lists on "Call Me" before apologizing for his societal ills. Jozeemo knows better than anyone that these assertions work more as screen treatments than they do as real-life strategies. Instead, he reassigns all of that militant behavior to warlike rap outings, like in "Adrenaline"—"What I'm showing you is rage at its peak/ If we beefin', I implore you to engage and retreat." Tracks like "Fourth" and "Sore Loser" are what happens when East Durham O.G. rap meets beats that sound like Dr. Dre's vaults.

On True Identity's masterpiece cut, "DBZ n I'm Out," Jozee takes a series of dashes through a regal whirlwind of flutes and spasmodic drum layers: "I'm not the type for consortin'/ no conversation, no chattin'/ no snickerin', grinnin', no laughin', no boredom/ we all about action," he raps. The disciplined rhymes spread across True Identity's street-steamed production prove that he never needed any co-signs after all. He can't quit now. The fun is just getting started.

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