FROM FILTH TO FAME: JOJI
OPINION By Finn DiSisto
Many of Joji’s listeners know him as the hit indie star who made Slow Dancing in the Dark, but not as his crass and offensive alter ego, Filthy Frank.
George Miller, the man behind both personas, created his first DizastaMusic account using the Filthy Frank character in 2008, his first of three YouTube channels. This is where he started posting his offensive style of comedy, and where he also debuted his signature Filthy Frank character. The other two accounts, TooDamnFilthy and TVFilthyFrank, were created in 2013 and 2014, respectively.
The Filthy Frank persona is extremely racist, sexist, homophobic, and generally everything a person should not want to be, and many took this crass and offensive humor at face value and not as satirical like Miller intended. He would also do increasingly dangerous and disgusting things for the channel as it gained popularity, such as eating hair, vomit, and even rats he found on the streets of New York City.
While Miller created Filthy Frank to parody society, this character took a serious toll on Miller, mentally, physically, and financially. Miller experienced constant seizures that were made worse by the mental stress that the Filthy Frank character put onto him. In addition, there was an “Ad-pocalypse” that occurred towards the end of his character’s reign. Many advertisers were pulling out of channels like TVFilthyFrank due to its offensive nature, causing creators to lose money through the lack of advertisements.
This caused Miller to post a tweet detailing his departure from YouTube altogether. While he had the Filthy Frank accounts, he also had a channel where he created rap music under the guise of the equally offensive character Pink Guy. However, this departure from YouTube led him to go down the path of creating more serious music as himself rather than an alter ego.
Miller created his first EP, In Tongues, in 2017. Joji (Japanese for George) began to separate himself from his past work as an offensive YouTuber and became his own artist with his own style of mixing elements of rap, pop, and indie music to create the heartfelt and heartbreaking songs that Joji is now known for.
Joji released his debut album, BALLADS 1, in the fall of 2018. His most popular song to date, Slow Dancing in the Dark, gained much of its popularity when it was used as a background audio during a TikTok trend, only adding to the rise of Joji as a singer-songwriter instead of the crass and disgusting personality he once portrayed. Although the album’s two singles, Slow Dancing in the Dark and Yeah Right stand out in popularity, the rest of the album is still an amazing experience to go through for the first time.
His 2020 album Nectar really shows how an artist can progress from an amateur making rap songs about Nickelodeon stars, Nickelodeon Girls, to beautiful songs like Ew, MODUS, and Like You Do. Although it wasn’t received to the same amount of acclaim that his previous work was, Nectar really is the pinnacle Joji album to be released as of yet, including his most recent album, SMITHEREENS.
Currently, Joji is still doing very well for himself, sitting at over 32 million monthly listeners on Spotify, and even recently releasing his newest album SMITHEREENS to very good reception. Although many people fail to look past his past, Joji’s future is much brighter than his past could have ever been.