After a two-year break since his last project (LIMBO), New Orleans rapper Pell returns with girasoul. The six-song EP, released in partnership with the recently relaunched Payday Records, captures the growth the 25-year-old rapper now based in Los Angeles has experienced from a musical and personal perspective.
A key player in its creation was producer Billy DeLelles (a.k.a. Billy Cigarette), who Pell linked up with while on tour with Kehlani a few years back. As he tells it, Pell and DeLelles would go back and forth during soundcheck and improvise, with "golden" actually coming out of those impromptu sessions. When they finally locked in studio time, they "wound up churning 20 or 25 joints."
"I felt like the consistency wasn’t there and the story would reveal itself later, but I wanted to get out the music that me and Billy had made," he says.
Pell also handled some of the production, which is a first for him. "I spent so much time on music I felt like I was cheating myself by just rapping because I studied music in school, not in college, but as a kid I played in band," he explains. "I feel like I have a sound that I wanted to get across, and I look up to the careers of Timbaland, Kanye, and Pharrell, so why not emulate that in what I do and come with a different kind of sound? Something that’s not current, something that’s not Xanned out music, like trap. I love those beats and I love that type of music, but there is a need for something new and I feel like I need to bring that."
The EP features only one rap guest, Saba on "Throwback," which opens with Pelle paying homage to "Slow Jamz."
"The sample reminded me of John Legend on Once Again, and that has the song 'Another Again," Pell says. "Imad Royal produced 'Throwback'; he’s incredible. When I heard that I was like I have to mention Kanye because he executive produced that John Legend project, so I was like, hmm, I’m thinking 'Slow Jamz,' and then getting Saba on it was like the 'Ye and Twista, it was perfect."
Pell has taken risks in this new phase of his career: moving away from home, doing business with a label, adding new elements to his musical pursuits. It looks like it's paid off so far, and Pell did it by following the path he created for himself.
"I feel the mission statement behind [girasoul] is definitely never be scared to be yourself. I know that’s cliche but it’s really the only way to get ahead and the only way to get out of your own head. I feel like a lot of this music came from things that I was thinking I could do but never did before, and actually putting that on wax and putting my mind to the music allowed me to create a new song. This is for the kids that are in their own head about what they can and can’t do and actually want to make a difference."
You can stream Pell's girasoul EP below and grab the project on iTunes.