Local Wire

Jelts

Descriptions such as "quaint" and "charming" are not the way a hip-hop artist would like to have his music explained. But if the kicks fit, then all you can do is flaunt 'em. In Jelts' most recent release, Sunset in the City (available for free download at www.wildlifecrew.com), the graffiti artist turned rapper explores the more instrumental side of hip-hop. Although grounded in classic R&B rhythms and symphonic melodies, the beats are dominated by low-key ambiance, like shadows masking the expressions of an unfamiliar face. The album sways from lithium-laced remixes to charming lullabies accented by slapdash sampling. If we could see music as colors, like lids on spray-paint cans, this disc would be capped in a dull primer gray. Because of the heavy repetition of looping harmonies, the tracks come across as simplistic and underdeveloped instead of innovative. The music itself isn't technically interesting enough to stand on its own as an instrumental album, but the level of ambition represented in the efforts of this young artist should not be ignored. Without the use of verse, Jelts has challenged his skill as an artist in utilizing techniques such as sampling, even if it sounds careless at points. Where Jelts succeeds is in capturing the title of the album, Sunset in the City. Sprayed throughout these tracks is a sense of still resignation — the vibe of a quiet city where the streets are bare, the cabs seldom run, and the buildings are empty canvases waiting for this street artist to remember where he came from.
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Taylor Kim