By: Josh Weiner
“The Newest Rapper to Reinvent the NOLA Sound,” is how Okay Player described Pell back in 2014, just as the MC was emerging into the Southern hip-hop scene with his “somnambulatory beats and rhymes.” Since then, the New Orleans native has continued his musical innovation and kept his quest for stardom alive.
Born Jared Pellerin, Pell had a relatively stable childhood until the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina drove him from his home and forced him to relocate to his mother’s house in Mississippi. “The experience of evacuating was crazy,” Pell has observed, “I think that nobody could have prepared for not coming back to a stable environment.”
Pell stayed in Mississippi through college, where he attended Mississippi State University. Around this time, Pell connected with his current manager, Jason Reed, and
released his first EP, Feel Good Summer (2013). Tracks, like “Ocean View 2.0”, established the soft, dreamy nature of Pell’s music that has gone on to become his trademark sound.
The following year saw the release of Pell’s first official mixtape, Floating While Dreaming, which he published on SoundCloud. Other tracks like the standout, “Runaway”, addressed the uprooted existence which Pell and many other New Orleans natives underwent following Katrina. “Out in the cold, you told me it would be fine,” his heartfelt raps go. “Now you’re alone, struggling for a place to call home.”
The project has caught considerable attention. Pell has since toured with notable names such as G-Eazy and Kehlani, along with performing at SWSW, Lollapalooza, and other popular festivals. He’s put out one more album, 2015’s LIMBO, and is anxious for the follow-up to arrive: “it’s actually a burden for me every day that it’s not released,” he says.
2018 is still relatively young, but Pell has already amassed a healthy crop of new material. His latest track, the remix to last year’s “Chirpin,” made its way to Spotify on March 30th. The song features an infectious chant-along chorus and a lyric which many millennials could relate to: the yearn to discover “something more intimate” than what the Internet has to provide. The remix is also bolstered by the presence of Pellow’s fellow New Orleans MC, Tarriona “Tank” Ball, who shows what she’s made of as the “powerhouse poet-diva at the front of vibrant New Orleans funk-busters, Tank and the Bangas.”
Looking ahead, Pell hopes to stay productive in the studio and continue addressing meaningful subject matters in his music. “I think that it’s mad important to talk about what’s going on,” he said in an interview with Nylon last fall. “Not just to be current, but in order to shift the culture to pay attention to what matters.” Be it Hurricane Katrina, or society’s flawed attempts to move social circles online, Pell has already taken a shot at several compelling topics in his music, and it will be exciting to see what he cooks up next.