While Joe may sound sincere when he sings the title of his 1997 hit “Don’t Wanna Be a Player,” any suggestion the singer was giving up on love games was bound to be premature. With his sultry, silky style and ability to smoothly shift between yearning vulnerability and seductive swagger, the R&B vocalist always comes across like a player with highly exceptional skills. That was immediately clear to listeners when Joe—born Joseph Lewis Thomas in Georgia in 1973—released his first album, Everything, in 1992. Hits like “All the Things (Your Man Won’t Do)” and “Don’t Wanna Be a Player” established Joe as a hip-hop-era successor to ‘70s balladeers like Teddy Pendergrass and Barry White. His pop crossover arrived when he joined Mariah Carey on 1999’s “Thank God I Found You.” And while the albums that followed included collaborations with Nas and G-Unit, he’d continually find ways to soften harder edges of his music’s hip-hop elements with a performing style more rooted in the soul and gospel music on which he was raised. Released in 2016, his 12th album, #MYNAMEISJOETHOMAS, is another classy affair that shows any wannabe player how it should be done.
BORNJuly 5, 1973