An ill fit for the major-label system, soul/funk-rooted singer, songwriter, and producer Joi Gilliam was slightly ahead of her time and too unique when she arrived during the early '90s.
Although Gilliam didn't receive the support she deserved during her development, she has amassed a sizable cult audience of adventurous listeners. They came to her as early as 1994, when she debuted on the EMI label with The Pendulum Vibe. A sharp, kaleidoscopic set of hip-hop soul made with Dallas Austin, it didn't reach enough ears and left only a small commercial impression. Shortly after that, Gilliam popped up on major releases by the likes of Goodie Mobb and OutKast. (She was, for a period, married to the former group's Big Gipp.) Beside Austin and backed by Fishbone, the adventurous Amoeba Cleaning Syndrome reached the public only through advance copies and bootlegs. The album met resistance from EMI, and subsequent plans for release fell through. A video was made for "Ghetto Superstar," a song inspired by Gilliam's father, former NFL quarterback Joe Gilliam, but only keen fans had access to the whole set. During the 2000s, Gilliam was briefly in Lucy Pearl, continued to sing background for a number of artists, and released two solo albums: the Universal-issued Star Kitty's Revenge and the artistically free, self-released Tennessee Slim Is the Bomb. The following decade, she recorded with DJ Quik, Big K.R.I.T., and Dâm-Funk, among many others, and worked on another solo release. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi