Struggling to find that new artist to fall in love with? Fear not, our contributor Kess Leung is here with the latest and greatest musical recommendations of each week. In this edition, Kess highlights American alternative R&B musician ELHAE.
Hailing from North Dakota, Jamaal Jones, better known by his stage name ‘ELHAE’ (an acronym for Every Life Has An Ending) is an artist whose passion for music runs deep. The singer first appeared on the music scene in 2013, following the wave of artists who dominated the alternative R&B industry, writing about nostalgic woes and romantic pursuits. Involved with music since a young age, ELHAE honed his vocal talent through joining his church’s choir. To date, the artist has officially released 4 albums, as well as several singles and many collaborations, with the likes of Kehlani, Eric Bellinger and Krono.
A compilation of tracks that take you on an auditory journey, this album is one to add to your playlist.
His most successful album to date, All has fallen, which was released in 2016, briefly charted on the Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop albums chart. Pushing for a strong debut, the first track, ‘404 (Intro)’ is a jazzy yet powerful rap song. Don’t let this fool you though, in the words of the Apple Music editor, “it is a musical misdirect”. A staccato rhythm entails in ‘Pronouns’, delivering a fuzzy flow with clean-cut precision which switches to a sensual melody, accompanied by a fast-paced trap tempo that pulses continuously through the chorus of the track ‘Needs’. A compilation of tracks that take you on an auditory journey, this album is one to add to your playlist.
Sure to strike a chord with anyone who has experienced the feeling of being in love, the album is a masterful deep-dive into ELHAE’s thoughts, taking listeners through a unique portal into his love life and his on-again, off-again relationship with a significant other.
ELHAE has continued showcasing his high-quality production with the 2019 album Trouble in paradise. Sure to strike a chord with anyone who has experienced the feeling of being in love, the album is a masterful deep-dive into ELHAE’s thoughts, taking listeners through a unique portal into his love life and his on-again, off-again relationship with a significant other. A distinctive feature of the album would be the ‘voicemails’ that have been carefully constructed to showcase snippets of its backstory, allowing the listener to exist within the artist’s raw and turbulent thoughts, as if they were the one experiencing it. The album starts out strong, exploding with energy and excitement through a series of upbeat tracks such as ‘Let you pick’, which talks about the bliss and struggles of a new romance, and fluidly transitions into a softer, smoother pace of nostalgia, where the low-simmering beat is reminiscent of 2000s R&B, particularly in songs like ‘fXXX’.
What Many don’t know, however, is that there is an entire ELHAE album on SoundCloud that was never released to other streaming platforms.
What Many don’t know, however, is that there is an entire ELHAE album on SoundCloud that was never released to other streaming platforms. AURA, the predecessor to 2017’s AURA II, was released in 2015, and is filled with numerous hidden gems. This was the album that made me fall in love with ELHAE, and it houses my favourite song of all time, ‘Situations’.
Cozyness, nostalgia, hurt: the raw emotions of the spectral slow jam coupled with the beautiful harmony of voices is not one to be forgotten, making sure the track is a frequent listen.
A track with several layers, ‘Situations’ takes inspiration from the Mura Masa remix of Childish Gambino’s heavenly rendition of the Usher song ‘You don’t have to call’. Sprinkling in some of his own personal flavour, ELHAE adds his own original lyrics to the mix. Paired alongside the silky instrumentals, these form a perfect blend of rapping and singing, each verse smoothly transitioning from one to another. The song starts off calm and slow and with a beautiful falsetto tone, before transitioning into a nostalgic verse tackling heartbreak, where ELHAE reminisces about lost times and lingering pain. The bridge complements the rap verse, seemingly mimicking an internal fight where the singer initially lets out his frustration, whilst simultaneously reassuring himself that ‘it’s alright’, which then divulges into a slack, trap-style beat for the chorus. The feeling one gets from the song is hard to describe. Cozyness, nostalgia, hurt: the raw emotions of the spectral slow jam coupled with the beautiful harmony of voices is not one to be forgotten, making sure the track is a frequent listen.
Not an artist to ignore, the potential that ELHAE holds is significant. To say he is talented is an understatement. The releases he has provided to the world are nothing short of amazing. With countless powerful jams over the past few years, I have no doubt that his next album is going to deliver the same, if not better, quality of music. With him, listeners aren’t just simply listening to music, they’re experiencing it.
Featured image courtesy of Paul Hudson via Flickr.
Article image courtesy of @elhae via Instagram.
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