I have an extremely short attention span. It’s something I struggle with every day and causes me to jump from topic to topic in the blink of an eye. It also leaves me available to devote my entire mindset to anything that strikes my fancy, even if just for a short period of time. Today, this devotion belongs to Jon Bellion.
Jonathon “Jon” Bellion was born and raised in Long Island, New Jersey and has released three free mixtapes since 2011. His most recent, The Definition, was released in September 2014. Bellion’s name may be somewhat unknown, but you are probably familiar with his work; in 2014, he wrote the chorus to “The Monster” by Eminem featuring Rihanna and co-wrote and produced the song “Trumpets” by Jason Derulo.
His most recent single release, “Woodstock (Psychedelic Fiction),” continues his upward trend and blends the most interesting parts of R&B, electronic, rap and hip-hop to create an entirely new sound. With lyrics like “She fell asleep during Coachella and she woke up here” and “They all dropped acid cause the time was right,” “Woodstock” narrates the ethereal experience of a music festival through background beatboxing and experimental synths.
Many of the songs on The Definition resonate with listeners because of their authentic and honest lyrics. Bellion uses his musical platform to detail his own anxieties and experiences, singing “Eighth grade, I feel depressed as shit” and “Nineteen, I’m feeling scared as shit” in “Munny Right,” vocalizing the deep-seated fear of failure that lurks within all of us. He continues this theme in many other songs, most noticeably within the religious juxtaposition of “Human,” relaying “The pastor tells me I’ve been saved I’m fine / Then please explain to me why my chest still hurts.” The hook, “I’m just so sick of being / Human,” encompasses much of what Bellion attempts to illustrate in his minimalist beats.
Bellion continues to comment on the grim depths of the artistic industry through creative syncopation and syntax in “Jungle,” emphasizing the harsh underbelly of New York’s finest in the lines, “These models don’t mean soda when they’re offering coke / There’s quicksand in the nightlife, it will swallow you whole.” By minimizing production sounds and complicated instrumentals, Bellion’s verses are able to take the listener by the hand and pull him/her into a world full of glamorous metaphors and interesting insights.
While Bellion’s musical style is innovative and fresh in a musical scene that is full of repetition, it is his lyrics that make you stop and evaluate what he is aiming to accomplish. With echoing vocals and constructed pulses, Bellion has set out on a mission to leave his own mark in the minds of his audience, laying all his cards out on the table for you to criticize. His introspective observations force you to evaluate your own hopes and ambitions, as well as reflect on where you come from and where your own strengths lie. It is music that does more than make you dance — it makes you think.
Jon Bellion may not have my attention forever, but he certainly has it right now.