By Josh Weiner
Compton may have lost some of its gritty, N.W.A.- inspiring edge (crime, particularly homicides, have plummeted in recent years). Yet the neighborhood remains a lush source of hard-hitting hip-hop all the same, as titans like Kendrick Lamar have made plain to everybody and even up-and-coming artists of the region are doing their part to prove.
One compelling member of the latter category is Eric Bellinger. He grew up with one foot in the music industry– his grandfather was a songwriter for the Jackson 5, and Bellinger actively performed around his native Los Angeles as a high schooler. This multi-talented youngster was also a star running back on his high school football team, and was offered an athletic scholarship at USC. However, he decided to go with his even greater passion and take a jab at one of the most competitive industries out there.
His first major collaborators were with some of his fellow Angelinos, the R&B group, AKNU (“A Kind Never Understood.”) After the group scored a deal with Epic Records, several prominent performers came calling. Bellinger wound up authoring songs for the likes of Usher, Justin Bieber, and Chris Brown, who appreciated his lively and upbeat production style (“I’m always smiling, just ear-to-ear positive, optimistic,” he explains. “And it comes off in the music.”) But not unlike Kanye West, and a good number of other beat-makers, Bellinger eventually started itching to hit the recording booth, rather than simply limit himself to the production room.
Soon enough, that yearning would developed into a very thorough collection of mixtapes and full-lengths, most recently last April’s Eazy Call. “I got songs on here to dance to, smoke to, sing to, make love to, and songs that I believe are pushing R&B forward,” he said of his latest work on social media. “I’ve literally been working on some of these records for YEARS and I hope y’all can appreciate each and every record for what it is.”
Bellinger’s own music has yet to really dent the mainstream charts– Eazy Call was the first of his albums to chart in the Billboard 200, and even then, only at #192. But he has still done his part to inch into the limelight by collaborating with some greater household names, including friend and colleague Ne-Yo, on the set of their breakdance-loaded “Dirty Dancin” music video a couple months ago. Bellinger also promoted the album with a summer tour, and is currently taking his act all the way down to Australia and New Zealand.
His most recent release is a marvel: the 20-minute “Meditation Music,” released to Spotify last month. “Close your eyes, and allow yourself to relax comfortably in your breathing,” he instructs listeners early on, and then casts a soothing spell that should delight yoga clinics all over the map.
The bottom line is that this man’s creativity continues to shine. “With an independency that some may struggle to obtain, Bellinger is successfully breaking the ceiling,” his official website declares. “And that type of dedication, talent and determination can’t be taught. He just got it.”