All formal introductions begin with a name. The warm approach is equally as important as a first impression. Professing sensual and romantic lyrics delivered with quality and debonair sophistication, Joe unapologetically initiates contact on his third studio album, My Name Is Joe.
Despite Joe beginning his solo career in 1993 with his Everything debut, it was his breakthrough sophomore album, All That I Am that served as the attractive target for a thorough introduction to the elevated level of his artistry. Joe’s finest musical hour arrived on April 18, 2000.
My Name Is Joe, his successful follow-up album, is Joe’s highest-selling and most regarded album, going triple platinum a little over a year after its release. A Best R&B Album contender at the 43rd Grammy Awards in 2001, his musical presence couldn’t be denied. With a hit album and songs playing on syndicated radio stations, Joe ranked at respective positions on the Billboard year-end listings in 2000, landing at No. 3 for Top Hot 100 Artist – Male and No. 5 for Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artists.
The overabundance of accolades and appreciation received for My Name Is Joe is attributed to the undeniably smooth and sexy personification of love throughout the album. Unlike All That I Am, that tiptoed around certain themes due to respect for his marriage to his ex-manager, Joe lets his pen roam in more lustful territory.
“Now, I’ve had a lot of freedom to express how I feel about certain things, especially sexual content,” Joe told Billboard in May 2000. “With this album, I was really comfortable to say what I wanted to say and still have the same amount of respect for women.”
With the utmost respect, Joe’s genuine and redeeming qualities helped him deftly remain a ladies man more than 13 years after his arrival on the R&B scene. Continuously setting the mood and vocally sweeping women off their feet with his distinct velvety tenor, the soul performer has a penchant for serenading.
Not many artists are blessed to have their first single be a radio smash. “I Wanna Know,” released in 1999, was originally featured on The Wood soundtrack and later released as the lead single for My Name Is Joe.
Back in 2010, co-Producer Edwin “Tony” Nicholas revealed that the song was originally cut for his sophomore album but Joe decided to leave it off. The decision to omit from his second album proved a hit for the Alabama crooner. Growing legs off the strength of the soundtrack, it now made perfect sense for the romantic jam to be included on the official tracklist for his second Jive Records album.
Flooding the pop and urban airwaves, “I Wanna Know” became the modern love song that women couldn’t get enough of. Joe expressed that the song’s message is simple: “I like to think I’m speaking for the guys who don’t really know how to put it into words. A lot of guys think it’s not macho to say these things, but I think it takes a strong man to be man enough to express these feelings.”
Becoming the honest mouthpiece for his male cohorts, the adoring lyrics delicately placed against the soft, yet firm production lends to the song’s infectious nature.
With a slight old-school ’70s energy, “Treat Her Like a Lady” was the following single. Joe sends a heedful warning to the men who aren’t doing right by their lovers; if you don’t step up, the next man will gladly do the things you don’t. The cautionary lyrics by way of Steve “Stone” Huff (Avant, KeKe Wyatt) and soul legend Isaac Hayes are a product of the track’s earnest tone.
“Stutter” was the third and final single and one of the few memorable songs that had multiple lives. The original version, co-produced by Teddy Riley, was more of a mellow vibe. Yet, the remix overshadowed the saturnine jam; becoming a number one hit on the Hot 100 in 2001 and one of three singles to sell over half a million copies that same year.
The irresistible remix includes the sample of “Passin’ Me By” by The Pharcyde with a lively and zany rap verse from Mystikal. Joe’s emotions are felt more on the album version, lamenting over his adulterous partner with dulcet harmonies and melodious ad-libs. In a time where remixes had differing production at minimum, “Stutter” provided the best of both worlds.
Joe has no issue being able to capture listeners’ attention on mid and up-tempo but the slow jams will always be his forte. “So Beautiful” is straightforward, no-frills R&B track that doesn’t rely on any extra effects. He anticipates the intimate moment he’ll get to show his woman how he feels about her amidst steady hi-hats and drifting synth-like strings. The simplicity of the track is a key component to the endearing theme.
Another hidden gem on the album is “One Life Stand.” The title is a distinct play on words, expressing that he doesn’t want this encounter to happen once; he wants it for the rest of his life. The production provides a smooth landscape for Joe to deliver an enticing lyrical melody that’s aurally pleasing. Intently, he signals off to the bridge, as the lush strings grow stronger along with the note change. He knows how to vocally command an audience by sticking to the proverbial R&B structure without sounding worn out and making it his own.
The album closes with the Make it Last Remix of “Thank God I Found You,” a duet with Mariah Carey featuring Nas. The original version was featured on Carey’s 1999 album Rainbow with pop group 98 Degrees. Carey personally tapped Joe for the feature, proving that his talent and vocals can stand alongside the legends.
Sampling the classic R&B duet “Make It Last” by Keith Sweat featuring Jacci McGhee, the pair covered and interpolated the ‘80s and verses from the original single. Carey has a strong history with male duets (Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight), so being in great company, he held his own. Joe and Carey’s voices congruously congeal, simultaneously allowing each other to show off following Nas’ rap verse.
Joe executes a healthy balance of traditional romance and tasteful sensuality on My Name Is Joe. He presents old-age topics in a sedulously appealing manner, singing all the things men want to say and women want to hear.
In achieving admirable feats three albums in, the success built the foundation for him to sustain a nearly 30-year career. His mature perspective and charming demeanor made way for his distinct voice in male R&B. Thirteen albums in and continuing to create, it’s evident he’s cleared his rightful space amongst his peers and more than deserving of his flowers.
Stream My Name Is Joe below.