Jameel3dn is a rap artist who exudes talent, expressivity, and authenticity. Growing up in Toronto, Canada, Jameel3dn discovered a love for writing at an early age when he would write everything from self-reflection to stories and poetry. This passion continues to shape his rap music, which serves as a powerful medium for Jameel3dn’s raw and sobering reflections on how the obstacles faced in adulthood ultimately stem from childhood. Jameel3dn is a gifted story-teller and his art is personal and genuine: a powerful combination that allows the artist to give listeners a glimpse into the traumas that he faced as a child and his paths towards future growth and success. When I listen to Jameel3dn’s music, I feel as though I’ve gotten to know him personally through his individual journey and his aspirations for his future.
Jameel3dn’s decision to pursue a music career arose out of a crossroads: he both had a passion for rap and displayed great talent as a basketball player on his school’s team in Miami. Despite the promise of an athletic career, the cost to pursue the professional route was out of his reach, and ultimately he decided to fully devote his time to his music. Jameel3dn describes a particularly formative moment in his decision to pursue a rap career:
“My first rap book was a quarter full and I thought I was untouchable. I got on the phone with my friends; fully confident I was going to blow them away. I rapped my whole verse to them and I asked them what they thought. First thing I heard was a burst of laughter, followed by some harsh words of not so constructive criticism. That’s the moment I knew, I knew I was going to be a great rapper.”
This experience perfectly describes the ways Jameel3dn positions himself as an artist through his music: by overcoming the struggles that have shaped his past, he actively constructs the conditions by which he will achieve his dreams.
Following the success and praise surrounding his two debut LPs—Letters (2017) and Form (2018)—the rapper has released his first ever EP, entitled Empty Room (2018). Jameel3dn explains that Empty Room is about his experience moving into his new apartment: “It was empty, I didn’t have anything but a single bed and a computer. I wanted to create something that was the sound track to my current life and where I wanted to be.” In the opening track, “Big Dreams,” the choir of voices and the flowing synth harmonies add a quality of transcendentalism, as though suggesting the possibility of escape from one’s present reality. A tight, punchy drum kit accompanies Jameel3dn’s verses but disappears during the choruses; this juxtaposition between a rhythmic grounding and a floating metric liberation mirrors the lyric contrast between his reflection upon present conditions in the verses and the dreams aspired to in the chorus. All of the tracks comprising Empty Room are similarly poetic in their lyric content, and each track creates a unique timbral environment to color Jameel3dn’s narration, inviting listeners to navigate the progression and coherence between tracks in any number of ways. Empty Room portrays Jameel3dn’s journey through pain and darkness, but the message that is clear throughout the EP is that the negative situations in life should be viewed as lessons to be learned rather than excuses, masking the music’s dark moments with a positivity and motivation to succeed.
Compounding the hype stirred up with his album releases and performances, Jameel3dn plans to release two EPs and two LPs set for 2019: Words and Speak. While you anticipate these works, you can hear Jameel3dn’s newest release Empty Room on SoundCloud. Be sure to check out Letters and Form on Spotify!