RLGT UP-NEXT: PELL
If Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap and Vic Mensa’s Innanetape had a lovechild, it would be Pell. Hailing from NOLA, Pell was mentioned in two small articles on Noisey, Spotify’s Predicted Music Stars of 2015, and Complex’s 25 Rappers to Watch Out for in 2014, but I don’t think anyone really did (are we having another Rodriguez moment, America?). Sliding under the radar, Pell has since released two full-length albums; Floating While Dreaming in May, 2014 and Limbo in November, 2015. Neither of these albums has since turned up on Pitchfork – does this make me a hipster – or Metacritic, two of the biggest websites in music news/reviews at the moment (but look out because RLGT is coming for you). He doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page – maybe I’m bad at the Internet, but I couldn’t find one. So, if you’re not an avid follower of HotNewHipHop or Complex, let me give you a little run-down on Pell.
Now when I say he could be the love child of the aforementioned albums, I mean that Pell’s style is very akin to what Chance and Vic have put out in the past. Not necessarily heavy, hard hitting beats that you would listen to right before driving up to your first B&E with YG, but more of a trance-like, retrospective take on the sound. So let’s take a look at where Pell has gone with his first two albums.
Floating While Dreaming was my first introduction, hearing the single “Eleven:11” on CJSR, Edmonton’s listener supported radio station based out of the University of Alberta. I was sitting in my car at about midnight, waiting to pick my younger sister up from a party (she is much cooler than I am), when this song came through the speakers and immediately made me feel like I was living a dream. And that’s what Pell intended for this album. In an interview with AXS, Pell discussed how the documentary The Waking Life, along with his own subconscious experiences, inspired him to create an album that felt like a lucid dream. And it’s safe to say he achieved that. Each track is dreamy and introspective, like the track Runaway, an ode to an old friend, letting them know he still remembers. He also doesn’t shy away from his past, evident in the opening track “Dollar Store”, about his time working in a – you guessed it – dollar store. Floating While Dreaming feels like an album that was cut right from inside Pell, leaving nothing behind in its wake. Then, after a yearlong slumber, Pell woke-up in 2015 and we were graced with the reality that is Limbo.
The opening track to his sophomore album is upbeat and happy, ironic for it’s name “Monday Morning”. You can’t help but feel good while listening to it. As the album progresses, it maintains the cadence, and takes us right to New Orleans itself, with tracks like “Queso” that bring out the culture and how it influenced Pell’s sound – the colourful music video itself even proves that Pell is still holding on to what brought him here in the first place. This album still moves in and out of the dream element that was evident in Floating While Dreaming as it progresses through to the end, but it definitely holds a slightly different feel that works well for the up and coming rapper. It sounds faintly more grown up, faintly more “living”. The kind of album that only comes from a long time spent deep in your own subconscious. And thank god his subconscious is so damn catchy (re: Café Du Mond).
So you may be wondering why I am choosing to bring Pell back into the light after his brief mention on publications in years past. After avidly listening to both albums, it is clear that the only place Pell is going is up; without a missed beat, one can only expect excellent things for the future. With that being said, he has recently released his tour dates throughout the States, and will be performing at SXSW in Austin from March 18th through to the 21st. He will then be making a number of stops at festivals after that, so if you have the chance try and catch a stream of his performance online. Or, if you are planning on being at SXSW (side note: I wish I was also as cool as you too), Hangout Music Fest, or Firefly Music Festival, put him on your list or artists to stumble upon. I can almost guarantee that it will be a good time.
In the meantime though, let’s hope Pell dreams his way to Canada, as a few tour stops here wouldn’t sound so bad either.