Two and a half years after he released his debut LP, The Human Condition, New York-based artist Jon Bellion dropped Glory Sound Prep on Friday. The new 10-track album was produced entirely by Bellion himself – and despite a couple hiccups here and there, it contains some of his best work to date.
Fans of Bellion have noted his implementation of synths and use of his own voice to create instruments, as seen in his “Jon Bellion – The Making Of Superman (Behind The Scenes),” where Bellion manipulates his voice to sound like an electric guitar. That is something that sets him apart from other artists. Bellion is distinguished as a formidable songwriter as well, by Eminem and co-writing “Trumpets” by Jason Derulo.
Overall, Glory Sound Prep holds as a solid album. Bellion integrates distinct, irresistible instrumentation with profound lyricism that defies the standards tied with his label as a pop artist. Glory Sound Prep imparts his growth as an extraordinary musician and tells of his experiences with prevalent issues, including love and death — reminding listeners he’s human and just like them. Two tracks, “Let’s Begin (feat. B.Keyz, Roc Marciano, RZA and Travis Mendes)” and “Couples Retreat,” lack the depth the other eight provide, especially the latter. No song on Glory Sound Prep is bad, but as a whole, it does not compare to The Human Condition or any of his five previous mixtapes. Here is a breakdown of the five best tracks from Glory Sound Prep:
5. Cautionary Tales
Led by an infectious guitar line, Bellion tells the story of himself through third-person point-of-view in “Cautionary Tales.” He acknowledges how blessed he is, but how he still experiences bad days and looks to music as his solace, saying “Heard he was happy so no one could gas him or force him to dance like a monkey for assets / He loves his life, but he keeps a pen sharp enough to write one time.” Actor Will Smith is featured in the chorus saying “Big bang, the six, the seven / Hey, hey, the king, the legend / Big bang, the truth, the weapon,” which may allude to Smith’s movie I Am Legend. The simplistic musical style of “Cautionary Tales” intermixes beautifully with the heartfelt lyrics and gives every listener something to love.
4. “Stupid Deep”
Released as the third and final single for the album, “Stupid Deep” shifts between being a piano ballad and a synth-dominating track. Bellion reflects on his life thus far, saying “What if who I hoped to be was always me? / And the love I fought to feel was always free? / What if all the things I’ve done were just attempts at earning love?” Despite the fame, Bellion still finds himself with a void he has yet to fill, pleading “Cause the hole inside my heart is stupid deep, stupid deep.” Unfulfillment is a consistent theme throughout Bellion’s work, in songs including “” and “.” In “Stupid Deep,” Bellion continues to exemplify that theme brilliantly.
3. “Mah’s Joint (feat. Quincy Jones)”
Surpassing eight minutes in length and concluding the album, “Mah’s Joint” tells of the degeneration of Bellion’s maternal grandmother and how it affected him and his mother. That is where we see some of Bellion’s most thought-provoking lyrics to date: “Conversations with the Devil and he’s telling me / ‘What’s the point in making memories when you can’t even find ‘em when you’re 70?’ ” Bellion later converses with his father, who says, “There’s a point in making memories ’cause they’ll be even better when we’re heavenly.” Bellion is a devout Christian and expresses that heavily through many of his songs. The bridge commences with an instrumental that’s almost jazzy, which transitions into an uplifting, soothing string accompaniment that may depict what it feels like to enter heaven through Bellion’s perspective. The song ends with Jones saying “For the mothers who are with us spiritually,” implying the song is to celebrate all mothers — those alive and those who have passed. “Mah’s Joint” is an electrifying end to the album and flawlessly conveys reasons to always commemorate the people who gave you life.
2. “Adult Swim (feat. Tuamie)”
Track seven on the album, “Adult Swim,” is practically three songs in one with no chorus. Bellion raps during the entire track, but the music randomly fades to static and immediately turns into what seems like a completely different song many times throughout. Clever wordplay is accompanied by eerie instrumentation, as Bellion says “I don’t feel guilty when Nike sends me some packages / We still end up in boxes even though we chase packaging.” Bellion recognizes humans tend to pursue materialistic items, but we still end up in a box — a coffin or casket, anyway. Bellion’s rapping skills and reflection on human thought allow “Adult Swim” to be an insightful track that’s enjoyable for fans of all kinds of music genres.
“Blu” apprises Bellion’s love for a potential lover in the most captivating way. The track showcases Bellion’s extraordinary vocal power, with him stating in a falsetto to his lover he is bound to “fall into your blue.” Bellion is employing the metaphor of the lover’s blue eyes to delineate falling deeply and inevitably in love with her. He goes on to say “Fighting it is hopeless, sinking in your ocean / Just like He designed me to do” — insinuating God planned for him to fall in love with her. “Blu” masterfully exhibits one of Bellion’s most alluring vocal performances to date; and with such an endearing theme surrounding it, it is easily the best track on Glory Sound Prep.