Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Jon Bellion - The Human Condition (2016)

Jonathan “Jon” Bellion is an American singer, songwriter, and producer from Long Island, New York. Jon Bellion is a name that might not be the best known amongst the larger audiences, yet it is not right to say that he is a complete unknown either. Although “The Human Condition” (2016) is his first studio album, he has released his music online for free for years now. What really speaks to his talent is that he has gathered quite a following of fans through these online releases. He also has writing credits for the Grammy winning song “The Monster” by Eminem featuring Rihanna and the song “Trumpets” by Jason Derulo.

His debut album, “The Human Condition” was released on June 10, 2016 and is probably his most personal work to date. It is an interesting blend of hip-hop, pop rock, and alternative r&b. As the title suggests, the album and the songs on it are about the human condition, or what it means to be human. As Bellion himself has said in an interview regarding the album, “Us as humans all have the same problems. We struggle with pride and tons of different issues that nobody really wants to talk about. So I figured if I'm the honest one showing how human I am, it will make people feel better about themselves.” The songs not only reflect the different sides of being a human being, they also reflect Bellion's own character, beliefs, and attitude towards life.

The cover art for the album is also something that definitely deserves to be mentioned. The art direction came from Bellion himself, but the visual development and execution were by David Ardinaryas Lojaya. Every song has its own artwork which represents the message within the song. The art makes the experience of listening to this album not only an auditory but also a visual experience.

The songs are all co-written and co-produced by Bellion himself. The album shows his amazing writing skills, from witty lines to unique sounds, he is not afraid to experiment with different sounds to get the best and most unique sound. Bellion actually gives the fans a glimpse into his song-writing process in a Youtube video (shown below) where we can see the making of three songs, two of which made the album.

He Is The Same
The first song starts the album off on the right track from the start (no pun intended). It is a message to everyone who knows him that despite the recognition and money he gets from his music, he is still the same humble, laid-back person he has always been. The song has a very rhythmic back-beat, which seems to be very characteristic of Bellion. Another aspect very characteristic of most of his songs is the switching between singing and shouting or rapping of lines. I find his songs often to be quite unpredictable, with not knowing where he will take the beat next. I think that is one of the aspects I enjoy most about him as an artist.
© J. Bellion, D. A. Lojaya
“Couple million in the bank, but / Nothing has changed, he is the same”

80's Films
The next song is a nostalgia for the past. It is pretty self explanatory, throwing back to the sound of the 80's, mixing in the modern. He also makes the 80's reference to The Breakfast Club and Cyndi Lauper.
© J. Bellion, D. A. Lojaya
“Just like the 80's films / We'll hook up in my back seat and let my best friend drive.”

All Time Low
This song was one of the singles that was put out before the release of the album and was almost an instant hit. It is understandable because of its catchy beat and creative lyrics. It is a song about admitting to making mistakes and being wrong and hitting an all time low.
© J. Bellion, D. A. Lojaya
“Now I'm a ghost, I call your name, you look right through me.”

New York Soul (Part II)
The fourth song on the album is an homage to his home town, New York and reminiscent of his childhood there. On this one, Bellion shows off his rapping skills while keeping it real about the lives of the wealthy.
© J. Bellion, D. A. Lojaya
“Let me give the kids just a little help / Tell 'em money is not the key to wealth / Cause if it can stop the pain / How the f*ck did you explain the bunch of millionaires that killed themselves?”

The piano-led ballad of the album focuses on the addiction people have to materialistic things, or fashion. It talks about how people never feel like they have enough and just want more and more.
© J. Bellion, D. A. Lojaya
“There's an aching, there's a hole in my chest / It's amazing that the crown of a king doesn't change me.”

Maybe IDK
This song is filled with many questions that we might not know the answers to and tells us that, well, maybe that's okay, we don't always need to have all the answers to everything. It tells us that it's alright if we are uncertain about the future.
© J. Bellion, D. A. Lojaya
“Maybe I don't know / But maybe that's okay.”

Woke The F*ck Up
The seventh song of the album was also one of the singles that was released in 2015 and it is simply about the realization that you have messed something up and now need that one specific person to be back by your side.
© J. Bellion, D. A. Lojaya
“We live in an age where everything is staged / Where all we do is fake our feelings / I've been scared to put myself so out there / Time is running out, yeah.”

This one can be considered to be a love song. It is about a love that feels so overwhelming and also the need to impress the loved one. Once again, what draws people in is the witty lyrics paired with a catchy beat in the background.
© J. Bellion, D. A. Lojaya
“Yeah, I think I got one / And every single thing about her is so / Overwhelming.”

Weight Of The World (feat. Blaque Keyz)
The struggles of feeling like the problems of the whole world are on your shoulders and then, after finding God, realizing that thanks to His help, you don't need to carry that burden alone any more. The song is slow and calm but ends with a rap by the featuring artist, Blaque Keyz.
© J. Bellion, D. A. Lojaya
“Was calling out for help, but heard no noise, no noise / Only the sound of my back breaking / But ever since you and your arms saved me / I don't hold the weight of the world anymore.”

The Good In Me
This is an emotional song about how loving someone can destroy you and everything good about you or how the wrong person can suck all the good out of you. In the chorus, an acoustic guitar makes a rare appearance, but it fits with Bellion's voice perfectly.
© J. Bellion, D. A. Lojaya
“Try to survive, keep my spirit alive / But like a knife in the woods / Yeah, you hunt down the good in me.”

Morning In America
This one tells a bit of a different story compared to the rest of the album. It describes a life that is sadly very real for quite a lot of people, especially in America, filled with drugs, problematic parents, teen pregnancies and so on.
© J. Bellion, D. A. Lojaya
“I've been trying to keep up with all of these great expectations / So I keep faking.”

A love song of a different kind. Namely, this is about a love that destroyed a person and caused them to shut down their emotions, so they are like a robot, unable to feel anything any more.
© J. Bellion, D. A. Lojaya
“I was a human, before you killed me / And ripped my heart out, I knew what love was.”

Guillotine (feat. Travis Mendes)
The third song that was released as a single prior to release of the album, which was actually the very first one released, is still one of the most catchy songs from Bellion. The release of this one gave the fans a taste of what Bellion is capable of with its witty lyrics and undeniably catchy beat.
© J. Bellion, D. A. Lojaya
“The secrets you tell me I'll take to my grave / There's bones in my closet, but you hang stuff anyway.”

Hand Of God (Outro)
An incredible end to the album featuring The Andraé Crouch Choir. It tells the story of a man who has lost his way, but the message is not to lose faith, since everyone's lives are in the hand of God. This is an amazing end to the album because throughout the song the choir sings bits of the songs that appeared in the album, bringing everything together in one song. The powerful energy of the choir makes it perhaps the most important track of the whole album. Really a strong end to the story with a message that is just as strong.
© J. Bellion, D. A. Lojaya

“When you're lost in the universe, lost in the universe / Don't lose faith / My mother says, “Your whole life is in the hand of God.”

Overall, I think this is an amazing album that tells an important story and reflects on Jon Bellion's character. Seeing as this is only his first studio album, I cannot wait to see what he has up his sleeve in regards to future work he will share with the world.

Listen to the whole album on Spotify:

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