Sometimes it feels as if everything is moving at hyperspeed. The internet provides access to an infinite pool of information, and young people with inquiring minds can take advantage of opportunities that didn't even exist 20 years ago. From suburban San Diego to Seoul to Sydney, those with an internet connection or smartphone can find a sense of community online, making friends or sharing experiences and ideas.
For young creatives, these communities can prove to be invaluable resources. It's been much reported that Kevin Abstract formed Brockhampton and met many of its key members on popular Kanye West fan forum KanyeToThe, and the cycle continues with Jelani Aryeh and his collective Raised By The Internet.
"[It's] a music and art collective I created over a Brockhampton fan forum," he explains by email. "In total we have about 20 members from all across the globe. RBTI includes artists, producers, and graphic designers. We have all been raised by the internet, for better or worse."
Jelani himself is a 17-year-old from a small town in San Diego. "I’m African-American, Filipino, and Chinese," he says. "I grew up in the suburbs and that plays a big part in my music." Themes like growing up and finding your place in the world emerge on his debut EP Suburban Destinesia, and he shares a similar genre-fluid approach to music as artists like Frank Ocean, Tyler, The Creator, Childish Gambino, and Kevin Abstract—all of whom he namechecks as inspirations.
The EP includes rap verses, sunny pop hooks, R&B touchstones, and glimmering electronic production, but the most instantly impressive part might be Jelani's songwriting. "Where We Go," is a heartfelt indie-pop song powered by a mournful but memorable hook, and it gives a glimpse at the kind of talent that stars are made of.
Read an interview with Jelani Aryeh below, and listen to his full Suburban Destinesia EP at the bottom of the page.
Can you introduce yourself. What do you want people to know about you?
My name is Jelani Aryeh. I’m 17. I’m African-American, Filipino, and Chinese. I grew up in the suburbs and that plays a big part in my music. I’m from a little town in San Diego called 4s Ranch. I love it here.
I’ve always been a creative person. When I was younger I loved drawing and making videos. I started making music last year, and I’ve already improved so much. Football was always a big part of my life until this year. "Where We Go" is my most heartfelt track because it was written right after I told my father I was done playing football.
Tell me about Raised by The Internet—what it is and how did it come together?
Raised by the Internet is a music and art collective I created over a Brockhampton fan forum. In total we have about 20 members from all across the globe. RBTI includes artists, producers, and graphic designers. We have all been raised by the internet, for better or worse.
None of us have even met in person besides Jasper Typical and me. He just released an incredible project titled “Everett” available on all streaming services. One of our producers, Jack, singlehandedly mixed and mastered Suburban Destinesia. We also have the best graphic designer, JCBS, from the Netherlands who created the cover art for my EP and is making waves in the Dutch hip-hop scene.
Follow us on Twitter @raisedinternet to stay up to date for future releases!
Can you explain the EP title and what that means to you?
The title of my EP is Suburban Destinesia. According to Urban Dictionary, destinesia is “when you get to where you were intending to go, you forget why you were going there in the first place.” For me, that’s my life in the suburbs. My parents worked really hard for me to live here, but I don’t feel like I belong anymore.
What artists inspire you as you're making music?
Frank Ocean, Childish Gambino, Kevin Abstract and Brockhampton, Tyler The Creator, Blood Orange, Cosmo Pyke, Rex Orange County, and Choker among others.
What's San Diego like for a young person like yourself? How does it influence and impact your music?
San Diego is super pretty, but lately I’ve been inside my house a lot making music. My music reflects the weather here the most, one day it will be rainy, and the next day it will be sunny and humid. I call it Suburban Pop. That’s my sound.
Where would you like to be in a year's time in terms of your music? Do you have certain goals?
In a year I want to rent a house with members of RBTI in sunny California. We’re all working to get better every day. My main goal is to meet Jorja Smith. She’s one of the most talented female artists in the game and not to mention freaking gorgeous.