When I first saw Jel.ani’s website, http://www.jelanology.com – I thought great, another R&B singer with a top of the line website. After giving his music a listen, I have to say, I was very, very surprised and very impressed by the quality of the music, and the atypical beats/vocal prowess of this young man. Land of Nowhere contains bits of hardcore electro, jazz piano, rolling synths, and some interesting vocal effects all adding to a pleasant, but pointed message., You’ll have to give it a listen to find out what the message it – this I will not reveal. This song is Imogen Heap-esque in its layered beats and complex rhythms – but, after Jel mixes in a voice similar to Kevin Michael, he has something different all together. No vocoder, no obvious autotune, just an interesting back beat, an electro kick, and I believe we are witnessing the young future of R&B.
If Land of Nowhere takes two steps forward, Classic pushes 5 steps back. A throwback(ish) track, with some scatting in the background, the spoken word lyrics may have force, but the message is lost in the banality of the track. This has been done before, “classic, like Mr. Boombastic” – any shout outs to Shaggy need to be taken into toe here, the track begs to be taken under the same wing as “Nowhere”, in which case, more might be inclined to hear the message Jel is preaching.
“Like This” leads in with some great hi hat work, and has the feeling and groove of a Jamaican party – supplemented with a great hook. A simple piano riff and a soft guitar work very well together, and the horns are supplemental, which is nice, considering how overused a horn section could be – ecspecially in reggaton – “Like This” wants to be a party anthem, but isn’t quite there, a little more work and some more tracks like this will be sure to launch Jel.Ani into the forefront of Chicago’s music scene.