Local Artist Interview: Jamil Kelley

As Dallas' underground hip-hop scene ventures through a arduous, but slow flourishing journey to break into the masses comes a promising x upcoming artist by the name of Jamil Kelley to help put the lyrics back in Dallas hip-hop. Kelley just isn't your typical "Dallas" hip-hop artist, as this Philosophy student fills his tracks with conceptual lyrics x versatile production for listeners show why he is a legitimate, progressive artist on the scene.

TTV: Jamil my man, thanks for linking up with TTV today.

Jamil Kelley: "No problem guys, It’s my pleasure."

TTV: So take us inside the mind a Jamil Kelley; where do you get your passion and vision not only as an artist, but for hip-hop?

Jamil Kelley: "Wow, I’m afraid if I take you guys inside you won’t be able to find your way out.. I’m such a labyrinth of sorts, I’m still discovering myself everyday. Each second presents a new moment to experience what it is to be ME. I think I get my vision from the dreams I’ve gathered as a kid. I always knew I had something to share with so many people.. I just didn’t know what it was.. I think my passion arrives from that same point as well.. Humans inspire me to progress.. I see where we are as a people, and I want better for us."

TTV: Listening to your latest tape "Flomogenic," what was your view for the album? What do you want listeners to take from it?

Jamil Kelley: "I want listeners to gather an experience from it. Something intangible they can take away from it.. I feel that’s where a lot of new music is lacking these days… real feeling.. I knew it was only my first studio project, but I expect much out of myself and striking the cavities of each persons mind and soul (if possible) when they hear the music is important to me."

TTV: You are extremely versatile, and definitely fit in the genre of "Progressive" hip-hop. Now we don't like genres or categories at all here, but how would you describe your sound?

Jamil Kelley: "I think my sound is purely cinematic. I try to tell stories with my lyrics and finding the right atmospheric tune and sound is an important asset. Im definitely hip hop influenced. All the emotion is soul and hip hop derived, but the sounds are as chaotic as a Bjork record as well."

TTV: I was blasting your "Flomogenic" tape in the car the other day, and my buddy said you had a "Mickey Factz appeal, but with more soul." How do you feel about comparisons in today's hip-hop game, when artists strive to break themselves from a certain mold.

Jamil Kelley: "Word? Mickey Factz? I can dig that lol.. I enjoy a lot of Factz’ records.. I think comparisons only serve to disadvantage the artist, but they are there to serve a purpose in the masses consciousness so they have a frame of reference to describe what they’re hearing.. I can understand that.. I try to extract different emotions and vibes from a slew of people, man.. Nas, Chuck D, Bjork, the feeling of MJ, Andre 3stacks.. All these artists are responsible for incorporating themselves in my sound.. I can only hope to do them justice."

TTV: Who, and what are you influences when it comes to music?

Jamil Kelley: "Michael of course… Nas, the vocal range of Bobby McFerrin, Flying Lotus, Madlib, Lupe, Bjork, Saul Williams, and a thousand more I’m probably leaving out by accident."

TTV: I notice you are a very artistic cat when it comes to the visuals. Would you say if you weren't an MC, you would be involved in something along the lines of artwork?

Jamil Kelley: "Absolutely, I originally went to school for filmmaking until I realized it would’ve been best If I went to a trade school for it instead. Now I study philosophy as a major, but I definitely feel applying visuals to a project is incredibly important. You want your audience to gauge as much as they can from an art project. It cant be half-assed thrown together and called art, which is how I feel most mixtapes are these days. You want your listener or viewer to have an overall experience drawn from the project. That what separates the mediocre to good projects from the great ones."

TTV: In Dallas, it's hard to find artists who aren't all about the "trap rap." How would you like to see the hip-hop scene in Dallas progress?

Jamil Kelley: "I want it to progress to a level where when someone outside of Dallas mentions the Hip Hop scene in Dallas, they can talk respectively about it. That’s what I feel Im set out to do. Its always been a goal of mine since I set out to rap a year ago. My dreams haven’t failed me yet. There are so many great artists out there in the metroplex, that it’s criminal most of the hype blogs don’t give them much exposure."

TTV: You definitely seem to take pride when it comes to the verbals, how do you think that separates you from other artists in the Dallas area?

Jamil Kelley: "To be honest, listen to my record “21years” or “Democrazy” and compare it to everything you’ve heard this city produce in the way of Lyrical Hip Hop in the past 5 years. I think those songs speak words I wouldn’t be able to convey to you right now.. They speak loudly for themselves. I know how dope the emcees are around here.. Im collabing with one as we speak for Neo.Tokyo and he’s ridiculously sick, but I wouldn’t call myself an emcee if I didn’t feel completely confident in my ability to rap."

TTV: Top 10 MC's x Producers

Jamil Kelley: "J.Cole is an awesome rapper and producer, Kanye, Black Milk, Madlib/Quasimoto, Jay Electronica, Flying Lotus, Lupe Fiasco, Saul Williams, Jay-Z is obligatory these days, and Nasir Jones - the greatest ever in my opinion."

TTV: Top 5 Movies

Jamil Kelley: "2001: A Space Odyssey, City of God, Children of Men, The Matrix and Akira."

TTV: I got to catch you're performance at the Kinetic Exhibit opening reception this past week - very dope my man. Any other upcoming shows in the area?

Jamil Kelley: "Yea, I have a few shows Im attempting to schedule in the Denton area, so you’ll more than likely be able to come out. I'm looking at Dans Silverleaf and The Garage right now, and in Dallas I'm still looking to perform at The Prophet Bar and other venues as well."

TTV: Neo Tokyo is your next release. When do you plan for its drop, and what makes this album different from your previous release "Flomogenic?" What was the overall vision for the conceptual trailer for it?
Jamil Kelley: "Neo Tokyo is looking to drop in October. It differentiates from Flomo in that you can expect more rhymes, lengthier songs, and incredible production. Not that Flomo didn’t have great production, but once again, I want it to be an experience for every listener that takes a chance on it. The vision for the trailer came from some Stanley Kubrick films. I wanted to build the tension with little to no dialogue from myself. I wanted people to read the words and take in the visuals simultaneously. Its about destruction and re-birth. 'Neo Tokyo' as a project will be more visual and innovative than Flomogenic. More art and I’m also writing a story separate from the EP that will present an all new experience for the people listenig to the product."

TTV: What is the one thing in your day-today-day life you can't go without?

Jamil Kelley: "Wow, man… I really don’t think I could go a day without the internet. I’ve made so many connections online that I probably wouldn’t be here talking to you today if it weren’t for it. Technology truly is amazing these days, and it’ll only improve and become more integrated in society as we evolve onward."

TTV: When and where do you find yourself doing your best work?

Jamil Kelley: " That’s a tough question.. I could see myself in about 3 or 4 years shelving out some incredible material. At least by then I feel I‘ll have the resources necessary to do the full-scale projects I envision. Its always about progress, I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think I could progress to plateaus I’d never imagine myself being at. I see myself growing everyday."

TTV: Lyrics, or a beat?

Jamil Kelley: "Well I think they both have to compliment each other, it all depends on what you’re looking for, but to me, an excellent piece of work balances both successfully. Excellent lyrics and great production - example: Nas- 2nd Childhood or Lifes a Bitch."

TTV: My man, and fellow Mean Green Eagle - surprised I haven't run into around campus yet brotha - thanks for talking with me. Any shout-outs, or people on your radar we should be on the look for?

Jamil Kelley: "I’m sure we’ll have plenty of opportunities to run into each other this semester. Be on the lookout for Poetic Justice on the UNT campus, as well as Servivor Series Label Group, -Topic, J Dub the Visionary, Electric Sea Spider and our collab EP dropping on August 31st, Loyal KNG and Matrimoney Clothing, and much love to the The Tunnelvision Crew, peace."

Interview by - Phillip H.

Stay True

Bandcamp: Jamil Kelley
Jamil Kelley on Facebook; Myspace; Twitter.

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