Harnessing Joey B's Addiction Into Creativity

Boston rapper, Joey B is the walking example of how hip-hop can save lives. After years of serious mental and emotional struggles, including a life-changing overdose that left him in a coma for 5 days, Joey has overcome some of the most difficult challenges by channelling his experiences into creating music. His recent single, “Talk of the Town” highlights his breakthrough, recognising that he’s ‘on the way to where he wants to be’ and can only move forward from this point onward. Joey is a member of hip-hop group, Masstapeace, together with Tygatsyle, Legendary Axe, DJ Slipwax and The Man in The Mask. Masstapeace is a high energy crew that has shared the stage with the likes of Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, and Slain. Joey is in the process of releasing the next Masstapeace album and in the early stages of his second solo album. 

We chat to Joey B about his recent single “Talk of the Town”, his involvement with Masstapeace, and how hip-hop saved his life. Ayla Dhyani writes.

You just released your single 'Talk of the Town', stating “I’m on the way to where I wanna be, no stopping me now.”  Tell us what direction you see yourself going.

When I started taking hip-hop ‘seriously’, I was in a very dark place. I had just gone through a major battle with heroin addiction; I actually overdosed and was in a coma for five days. I began to use writing as a therapeutic tool to overcome demons I was battling. I had always rapped, but this period in my life allowed me to really tap into the feelings and emotions I was experiencing. Four years later I'm in a much better place. I’m off the drugs and being a productive contributing member of society. I'm hoping to keep the positive momentum rolling and eventually become an influence to those who have struggled with addiction and/or mental health issues. I'm not looking for any Jay-Z or Eminem type of fame, I’m just looking to be a power of example that “you too can overcome" if you're willing to put in the work.  

How is the hip-hop scene in Boston? Are you feeling the support?

The hip-hop scene in all of Massachusetts is amazing. It is a hotbed of talent with so many promising new comers: Moroney, Stiz Grimey, Token, Compostion and so many more.  The love and support is definitely very real and very thorough from the casual fan all the way to the respected veterans like JFK, Slaine and Statik Selektah. Everybody shows love. It's really cool the way that it is right now. Everybody that’s really out here grinding and on the come-up support each other tremendously, which is amazing in a genre that is usually very self-absorbed. 

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Tell us about your involvement in Masstapeace.

Oh man Masstapeace! I could talk about this for hours!  I grew up with Tygastyle of Masstapeace. We went to school together – when we actually went (laughs). A couple of years after high school we linked back up and started recording freestyles at my apartment in North Chelmsford. I ended up leaving the state for rehab at the beginning of 2006 and stayed for five years. Shortly after I left, Tyga met Legendary Axe and Masstapeace was born: Tygatsyle, Legendary Axe, DJ Slipwax and The Man in The Mask.  They took off with their debut album 'Time 2 Make Moves', did a ton of shows, sold a bunch of records and made an unbelievable name in New England as a high-energy hip-hop group that put on crazy shows. Like I said, I began getting very serious about my craft in 2010 following my overdose, and in January of 2011 while I was still in CT, I reached out to Tyga looking to see if he could get me any shows up there in Massachusetts. He asked me to do the Masstapeace 'Time 2 Make Music' album release party in Lowell. I ended up doing the show and eventually ended up moving home to North Chelmsford about two months after that. Since then its been all about the grind and perfecting my craft.  My friendship with Tyga has continued to grow and become tighter over the past couple years. I was booked for multiple shows and brought those guys out to rock with me and vice versa. They had kind of taken a hiatus since 2011 to really mature as people, and so that Tyga could really be there to raise his four children. They started recording earlier in 2014 for the new project and asked me to record a couple of joints. I guess they liked what they heard. They mentioned noticing the growth that I've shown over the past four years with writing and performing and on August 1st, while we were opening up a show in Boston for Onyx, they made the official announcement that I am the 5th member and 3rd lyricist of the crew. 

Masstapeace has shared the stage with some legendary artists in hip-hop. Is there a pinnacle moment in your career that stands out for you?

There are a few moments that have really stuck with me. On July 18th 2011, I opened up for D12 in Boston. That was the first huge show I did and it proved to me that this was doable.  On September 5th 2012, I opened up for my favourite MC, Joe Budden, and the rest of Slaughterhouse. It was just the most amazing feeling standing on stage after rocking that crowd while these guys tore the place down! I had absolute goosebumps! But on January 12th 2014, I drove to NYC with Jon Glass to record in Brooklyn at Statik Selektah's house/studio. I got to record a track called NBA (Never Been Arrested) with JFK and Wais P over a Statik beat. We ended up filming a video at The Barclay Center a couple months later. It was just unreal.

What projects are you currently working on?

I'm working on the Masstapeace album right now. I’m also in the very early stages of my 'Sophomore' album. I just wrapped up the first single, which is a real hip-hop head-joint that features Denver's Trev Rich, battle-rapper superstar Tsu Surf, Tygastyle, DJ Slipwax, and myself over a Dark Night beat.

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How has music and hip-hop impacted on your personal growth?

I say it all the time; hip-hop saved my life and continues to everyday.  It keeps me motivated. It keeps me reaching for more. Its keeps me in the public eye, which means I need to keep it together.  At the end of the day I want success more than I want to throw my life away and that’s because of hip-hop. The possibilities are limitless if you're genuinely focused and dedicated.

What stimulates your soul?

Genuinely connecting with people through music. There is no better feeling than when I am going through some crap and I am able to find the perfect words to vent about it, record it, release it and have people say “yo! I feel this bro, I am going through the same thing right now and really needed this.” That's what its all about for me. 

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