These days it seems like there are no boundaries when it comes to hip hop. Yet, that is what makes the genre so appealing and enjoyed by millions of listeners by the hour. This week we highlight the rising LA-based artist and producer, JEELEL!, who continues the trend of expanding the barriers of hip-hop music. There's something shocking yet so admirable about the way he experiments with his voice and different beats to create a cohesive musical project that makes him one of the most refreshing new acts on the scene. And as much as it feels as though he is still discovering his own sound, there's a mesmerizing way he is going about his musical journey that draws you in for the ride.
JEELEL!'S newest project, Angel from Heaven, is one that grasped our attention instantly. Drawing from multiple pop and hip-hop influences, his authenticity and originality are evident in every record. Upbeat tracks like “ASSASSIN”, and “Superhero!” fuse the vibe of a top 100 pop record and the voice of a perfectly autotuned rockstar but with a hip-hop twist. At first listen, his songs may seem out of place when added to your rap playlist. Yet, that's the beauty in JELEEL!’s discography-each track brings a refreshing sound to the ever-evolving genre.
Another aspect that stands out is JEELEL's transparency about his journey. Hidden behind the glitz and glam of the Hollywood sign, is the reality of what many face when living in Los Angeles. In the land of endless opportunities for aspiring artists are $7 coffees, $3000 studio apartments, and $20 an hour parking. Living in such an expensive city impacts the lives of thousands of creatives daily. However, JEELEL!'s track “Wanting Me!” from his newest project Angel from Heaven, encapsulates the silver lining of this burden. “When I made “Wanting Me” I was homeless in LA." he shares with EARMILK. "I was really struggling, but my spirits were high.” This standout record takes a break from the aggressiveness of rap and highlights the artist's ability to enjoy the sometimes short-lived but beautiful moments in the journey of life. It's the kind of storytelling social commentary reminiscent of hi-hops earlier Sugarhill Gang days.
When discussing the song “WARTIME”, JELEEL! also shared with EARMILK that the inspiration for the track came from past experiences of people doubting him. Beyond the social commentary, JELEEL! also allows his music to provide a more introspective story. The intensity of records like “WARTIME” and “BIG BAD!” are showcases of an artist pushing forward with his own sound and production, they hit your chest harder than Sheck Wes’s “Mo Bamba”.
JELEEL!s ability to take his life experiences and tell a concise story through his music evokes an emotion in the listener that leads them to relate with him regardless of what he’s sharing. Angel from Heaven is an innovative project that encapsulates the rising artist's hunger to succeed. Among being a wonderfully crafted project, it’s raw delivery and earnest lyricism amplifies his expressiveness and fearlessness to experiment with new sounds. This is a breath of fresh air in an industry where many artists tend to hop on “new waves” of autotuned dribble in hopes of placing on the charts. The fearless excitement of meshing multiple genres and sounds together to create unique musical masterpieces is what sends JELEEL! to the front of today's new hip-hop leaders.
As a rising artist in an oversaturated industry, JELEEL! is clear about his objective. “My number one goal is to inspire people through my music, energy, and presence” he shares. “ I want to shake and change the world. [and] open doors for other creatives. [Most importantly], I just want to help humanity live out [their] purpose.”