There’s really no better medicine for the soul than a song. A guitar chord can soothe, a vocal melody can comfort, and a beat can anesthetize as well as any prescription. As an artist and multiplatinum songwriter, Joseph Angel channels that healing power on each and every tune by holding nothing back. This signature honesty has fueled anthems for everyone from Rihanna and Lil Wayne to Demi Lovato and Timbaland. Now, it remains a signature of his solo debut for Republic Records. After nearly a decade of writing for various stars, he formally stepped to the center of the stage as an artist himself.
"I wanted to hone my craft as far as who I am and take the time to perfect my sound," he exclaims. "I wanted to create something familiar, but true to me. I wanted to express my life not just from a musical standpoint, but give people healing through the trials I’ve been through and being able to swim through those waves and impact others positively. I do this for the healing and to let everyone know they’re not alone in their struggles. I’ve been there. We can use our hands to dig out together. That’s what I do in my music."
It’s also what called to him in the first place. Born in New Orleans, he can recall listening to Al Green on endless repeat with his grandparents seven days a week before eventually discovering (and sneaking) his older cousin’s Prince and Michael Jackson CDs. Relocating to Houston, he became fascinated by the city’s underground hip-hop scene powered by the likes of DJ Screw in addition to embracing the storytelling of luminaries such as Jay-Z. He spent hours rewriting lyrics of his favorite songs and singing in secret. The secret came out during his mother’s company picnic where he made a surprise performance to a screaming crowd. The show-stopping rendition caught the attention of everyone and there was no more denying his special gift.
So, Joseph finally told his mom the truth…
"She thought I was kidding at first," he recalls. "Then, she was like, ‘Sing something for me.’ I did, and she started crying like, ‘How did we not know?’ I was the oldest of three kids, but I kept to my own devices though. It wasn’t something I wanted to show everybody at first."
However, he started to share that gift shortly thereafter. He worked a series of blue collar jobs in order to fund recording—even becoming an airline cabin crew member and attending pilot school "to fly for free." After ghostwriting for various artists, Roc Nation signed him in 2010. Two years later, he landed a number one hit on the Billboard US Dance Club Songs chart, penning Jennifer Lopez’s "Goin’ In" [feat. Flo Rida]. He contributed "We Been On" [feat. R. Kelly, Birdman, & Lil Wayne] to the chart-topping self-titled 2013 Rich Gang compilation and wrote Demi Lovato’s "All Night Long" [feat. Missy Elliott & Timbaland] among many other cuts.
However, Rihanna’s ANTI smash "Love On The Brain" would be a game-changer. Not only did it go triple-platinum, but it galvanized Joseph’s own journey.
"That record changed the trajectory of where I wanted to go artistically," he admits. "I was initially writing it for myself and my own album. However, my story resonated with Rihanna."
His 2018 debut single "Shame" does just that. A slow burn of clean guitar and simmering beats bristles against his soulful howl as the production conjures the ghosts of sixties Muscle Shoals. Most importantly, the lyrics hit hard on impact.
"I’ve always been an artist first, but I finally felt like nobody could tell my story better than I could. At the time, I was going through some detrimental stuff. Music was my escape from it. I needed to go all-in. I was in a dangerous and abusive relationship that I was trying to get out of, he sighs. Until this person came into my life, I never thought the concept of love was real for me. I fell in this deep dark hole of what I thought love was. Once I got away from it, I was still empty, so I tried to fill the void with anything…Each and every person I could. It started to spiral out of control to where I was an addict with it. I knew it wasn’t healthy, but it wasn’t something I could just talk to my mom about it. It was a vicious cycle until I crawled out. ‘Shame’ is a guy trying to find himself after losing himself."
Now that he’s found himself, he’s ready to harness that power to heal on more new music.
"My songs talk about that shit going through your head at two in the morning when you’re lying in bed," he leaves off. "I want to write about those innermost thoughts. It’s okay to have those feelings. I’m showing the dirt and emotions we all have. It’s beautiful."