Words by Jesse Serwer
“I Wanna Know” Joe? Late-night-Quiet-Storm-radio, “Not A Player” Joe? Ain’t he from the South? Well, yes. Coming across his newly leaked but apparently old Neptunes collaboration “Gone Away” the other day had us thinking back to 1993, when Joe still had hair, NHL jerseys were hot in the hood and “I’m in Luv,” the second single from Joe’s very first album, Everything, was on some NYC raggamuffin shit. The beat by house producer E-Smoove, which used the same basics stew of samples from Cypress Hill’s “How I Could Just Kill A Man” (and 1,001 early ’90s remixes), was more on the New Jack/hip-hop tip than anything but the mic chatter ((“Now ‘ere dis,” et. al) from deejay Brownman, gave it a dancehall edge. The “Ghetto Lab Mix” of the song, which confusingly seems to feature a different deejay called Darkman, took it even further into yard territory.
It’s hard to explain in today’s era of Dirty South dominance, NYC irrelevance and disinterest in dancehall how or why the crooner from Columbus, Ga. was rocking with deejays and shooting block party-style videos on 116th Street, like he was from Harlem—that’s just how they did it in ’93. And it’s those authentic summertime NYC elements that the video so effectively captures—’round the way girls in Lycra pumpum shorts, kids with Italian ices, pineapple chopping, dude selling African fabrics— that’s got us looking back at “I’m in Luv” today.