Thursday 25 February 2021

Album Review - Fifth Symphony by Big Smokin' Joe


Fifth Symphony


Big Smokin’ Joe

Photo: Copyright S. Rider - Infinite Images

One thing I decided to do, on moving to Somerset, was to link up with some local artists and finally in 2020 that began to happen. Following the end of the first lockdown I saw an advert for the launch of an album titled Fifth Symphony by one Big Smokin’ Joe. The ad appeared in several places around Glastonbury including The King Arthur Pub, Heart of the Tribe Gallery and Rogues Gallery (the owner of which I got to know through Styles of Somerset). So, as you do, I went on social media found Big Smokin’ Joe and dropped him a message. Following that we met up in a sun-drenched Glastonbury for a bit of a chat and Joe was kind enough to give a copy of the album and invite me along to the Album launch night so, it was only right that I drop a review for everyone.

Now due to all the restrictions caused by the pandemic the album launch party, which was to be a mini tour around Glastonbury, ended up being the last night before lockdown 2 came into force, the 4th November 2020. It was a cracking night with some great music and great people.

Before I digress too much lets do the right thing and jump straight into the album and a quick track by track breakdown…

The album kicks off with Joe taking all those young rapscallions back to school on Welcome Class. Just a little tongue in cheek intro the demonstrates his love for one Sean Price. From that light-hearted start we step into a laidback track with some electric floating through the background as Joe drops his Opening Prayer, and here he gives us some background and reasons for dropping the album and then hitting a shout out to all those who have brought his music. The vibe remains on the laidback tip with some sweet piano and flute as Mr Joe gives us a look at what it is to be Big Smokin’ Joe on a daily basis and reasons why you should or shouldn’t hire him.

From being laidback to a big funky, seventies soundtrack vibe with funked up piano and bass as Too Nice demonstrates a deeper side to Joe as you get the feeling here this is a person you can come to, even on your worst days and take some time to step away from dark side of life. Five Times hits with heavy boombap feel with some dope piano and bass to boot. This track is all about this being album five, dropping nuff wrestling references and just saying crazy shit for a laugh, no offence…

More wrestling references drop on Say Woo, heavy on the piano vibe here as we are treated to trip around the life of Joe, Hip Hop and the kinda things you do that make you say WOO like Ric Flair. The piano vibe keeps coming but, this time fuelled by a big head nod beat that creates a vibe you could lose yourself in as Joe drops similes a plenty as we get a glimpse into his mind in Underbelly Again. From the underbelly of the underground, we are jolted back to reality with a flute which blends with a pounding beat and a chilled-out guitar vibe on James Brown as we look back and forward in life, Hip Hop and the things that make it, what its all about…

Sway Shit hits us hard and heavy with some deep dark piano and brass elements, get a message that you need to take inspiration from what you see around you and turn that, even if its ill-gotten gains, into something positive to entertain. There is also an important message behind Own Two where its all about doing it for yourself and knowing you don’t owe anyone, it’s all you and this realisation hits you as you drift along to a jazzy piano vibe and chilled head nod beat. From deep understandings to a light-hearted look at the seduction of the flesh between two people with Dark and Seductive, all over a deep and seductive guitar vibe and a beat to get ya foot tappin’ and ya head goin’ too, yeah…

Killa Bee drops with by taking funky bass to the next degree and the beat here fits Joes verbal delivery perfectly as he drops line after line about the art of boxing and hitting hard from the first bell. Class Dismissed is a short thank you message from Joe to a fresh and floaty vibe that puts you in mind of waking on a summer’s day or something but, anyway lets get back to the funky head nod vibe its Will & Joe, looking at a brighter future by having fun at those live shows, you remember live shows right…

So, what can I say about this album…

After chatting with Joe, going to the live show, and listening to the album one thing is perfectly clear, Big Smokin’ Joe is all about having a laugh and keeping both feel planted fairly and squarely in the good times and that is something that is so important. Now, it’s true, that not everyone will agree with the way he does this on some tracks but, not everyone agrees all of the time and that’s fine. This is music that reflects the kinda stuff we talk about everyday and the way we joke about it. Everyone will make an inappropriate comment here and there and it’s ok as there is no bad intentions, it’s just about making light of any situation and finding a place inside where you can laugh about it, let off steam, all in a good way. In fact, you could say this album is like a group of friends sat around chatting over a few drinks and a doobie or three, just chewing the fat and taking a comedic look at life. That is what I get from Joe’s brand of Hip Hop and that’s cool because we have comedians in the world and we need that in Hip Hop too and if you like that, then you need to listen here as this is definitely your thing.

                                                      Photo: Copyright S. Rider - Infinite Images

To be honest I really enjoyed every aspect of this album from that light-hearted vocal style to the mixing up of vibes across the album it all works really well and is the kinda album you can bung on and have a good time listening to on you own or with a group of mates.

The album is produced and written entirely by Joe himself and that is no mean feat in todays world and the fact he has dropped five in such a short space of time is more than impressive. What is also impressive that Joe does not use a host of guest artists on his albums, even though he knows plenty, its all him doing his thing But, not just that he releases everything himself through EyeManifest Records and does his own artwork and clothing range too, I mean props where props are due right.

Now Big Smokin’ Joe loves Basketball and plays a lot at Abbey Park in Glastonbury, as pictured on the album cover by Miss Ana, so, in terms of basketball how does this album score, that’s simple Fifth Symphony is a slam dunk, no question and its available now.

On that note,

Peace, I’m out.



Buy the Album on Bandcamp Here:

Big Smokin' Joe Official Website:

Big Smokin' Joe YouTube: