In November 2009, recording artiste Lil Joe was admitted to the hospital for four weeks, having suffered a ruptured blood vessel. He was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation - an abnormal formation of blood vessels. Fortunately Joe recovered and returned to creating music, but the artiste was a much changed man. Many celebrities attempt to reinvent themselves, but the artiste once known as Lil Joe became J.O.E, a change which felt reflected an inner transformation; "Well having a near death experience really opened my eyes to a lot of things so that's why I just adjusted my name from Lil Joe to J.O.E which means Jah Ova Evil 'cause we a try trod the righteous path zimi."
J.O.E. had become in touch with a higher purpose in his life, using music as his vehicle. The young reggae artiste was adamant that music was his calling. When asked why he had made music his career of choice, his emphatic statement was reminiscent of the late great Bob Marley; as he stoically suggested that fate was at hand; "I was born a singer, so music elected me, I didn't choose music, "said the entertainer.
In fact J.O.E knew from an early age that he would be a musician; the promising young singer was raised in heavily musical environment. J.O.E reached a professional level of performance even as a youth, when he toured with his siblings in the group Jah Children. Caught in a wave of nostalgia J.O.E reminisced, "My most memorable performance was when me and my squad were performing and (dancehall artiste) Ninja Man ran on the stage and decided to clash us as a friendly clash. And me and my squad did take him on and shell down the place," J.O.E laughed, "This was about 8 years ago or so."
Looking to his future, J.O.E had visionary ambitions for his career, "Through music I would direct masses of the people to the Most High and I would change all the hatred, envy and greed of people's minds," words to which the lyrics in his songs are testaments. With positive messages fuelled by the philosophies of H.I.M (His Imperial Majesty), Joe delivered his music with conviction in what he describes as a "melodious, creative and passionate" fashion.
In his music the singer held back no emotion, saying "Some songs are personal and others I just use my imagination. My song called Struggles represents me the most, 'cause I'm a very determined artiste, that have my eyes on the prize. Billboard me a go, top over souls and rap."
At the time of the interview the promising artiste was writing and recording music, with hopes of eventually compiling an album, J.O.E's excitement about future projects was almost tangible as he exclaimed, "For 2011 J.O.E, Bird Gang and Equiknoxx music gonna be a problem! Big up Shanz and Kemikal," said the eager the young artiste. As a lover of many musical genres, he hoped to someday collaborate with Matisyahu, Gentleman, Sean Paul, Nicky Minaj and Lil Wayne. To date J.O.E's label Equiknoxx still hopes to release an album of the musician's final works.
A humble man, J.O.E took pleasure in the simple things, smiling as he described his low key life; "When J.O.E is not performing I love to kick back with Family, Friends, My dogs: Scion, Lion, Tiny and Pebbles, and just think about moving forward in life." J.O.E attributed his drive to succeed to his family and spiritual foundation; "My motivation would have to be having faith in the Most High Jah Rastafari, my mom and entire family, friends and of course my first born son Khai."
J.O.E closed the interview determined as always, saying, "My greatest fear is to end up being an Almost, 'cause almost doesn't count."
The reggae artiste lived toward a legacy, and was truly dedicated to his passion. Despite his untimely passing, without a doubt that we can say J.O.E left a lasting impression upon all who met him or came across his music.
Jamaicansmusic.com salute J.O.E for his positive contribution to the legacy of Jamaican music and his use of music in the never ending battle negativity.