Jon Bellion. Does that name ring a bell (pun intended)? It should.
Jon Bellion is a singer, songwriter, rapper and producer from Long Island, New York. Bellion made his first impression on the music industry after quietly winning a Grammy for penning Rihanna and Eminem’s hit “The Monster.” His career has been anything but quiet since then. In 2017, the college dropout sold out three consecutive tours of his first studio album, The Human Condition. To cap off his breakout year, he toured with Twenty One Pilots.
For those unfamiliar with his sound, Bellion describes it as a mix between hip hop and Pixar—colorful, pop melodies on top of bouncy hip hop drums. Interestingly, his lifelong dream is to create the soundtrack for a Pixar film. In a Forbes interview, Bellion explained, “I’m going to use a debut album funded by Capitol Records as an expensive business plan to get in front of Pixar.” That album was The Human Condition.
On Nov. 9th, Bellion released his second studio album titled Glory Sound Prep. In this record, Bellion doubles down on the Pixar-esque instrumentation and aesthetic. He accompanied every track on the album with an animated motion picture and the album sounds exactly like the soundtrack to Disney Pixar’s next big film.
Sift through the various themes of Glory Sound Prep and you’ll discover the album’s true intentions. Bellion sheds light on faith, mental health issues and his relationship with his wife through catchy, concise and universal lyrics.
The first time through, the album seems all over the place. Bellion sings to his wife in “Conversations With My Wife,” commentates on social media in “The Internet” and tells us about his veganism and vacationing in Greece in “Adult Swim.” With that being said, this is a record that grows on you with every listen. It does not have to make sense because he is merely presenting his life to us the way it is: messy and confusing.
Tracks like “Stupid Deep” and “Blu” have a sound ahead of its time with the way Bellion interweaves his smooth vocals and otherworldly instrumentals. They are sonically soft but piercing, and lyrically simple but profound.
In “Stupid Deep,” Bellion poses a simple yet profound idea: “What if all the things I’ve done were just attempts at earning love ‘cause the whole inside my heart is stupid deep.” This track is about the never-ending search for fulfillment.
Bellion is not afraid to be introspective. He poses a scary but real question to himself and the listener: what if we’re just wasting time pursuing things that will never fill the emptiness inside? Bellion does not leave us without hope, however. A few tracks later, Bellion tells us where his hope is found and what can actually fill that stupid deep void: “It’s all because of Jesus.”
“Blu” is a track that has grown on me the most. Bellion’s transition from a poppy-techno arrangement into a spacious piano breakdown sounds like floating through outer space. “Fighting it is hopeless, sinking in your ocean just like you designed me to do. Fall into your blue.” This track feels worshipful. Although it is not explicit, Bellion seems like he’s talking about surrendering to God’s will for his life–completely surrendering to what he was made for.
Bellion’s versatility is on full display in this album. In addition to his melodic lyrics, he demonstrates witty wordplay and storytelling bars through his ability to rap. His performances on “Let’s Begin” and “Adult Swim” are outstanding. His delivery combined with soothing rap instrumentals induce facial reactions of disgust, in the best way possible.
In “Let’s Begin,” Bellion reminds us of his hip hop roots. After flexing his career moves, he finishes his verse with an interesting Biblical reference: “I spoke with Yahweh, he told me Jesus grafted us in. Which means my brother’s my brother, it don’t matter the skin. America needs to watch how they treat His chosen people, but that’s for deeper than surface records, now let’s begin.” He uses God’s name of the Hebrew Bible and warns America of how they treat Israel, His chosen people. He also advocates for equality and spiritual kinship regardless of skin color. Because of the new covenant through Jesus, believers are brothers and sisters in the family of God. This is another evolution in Bellion’s expression of faith. Album by album, he has become more and more outspoken, and that is super exciting.
The topic of faith continues in “Adult Swim.” Bellion credits God for his talent and for preserving his life thus far. He writes, “Jesus was instrumental in blessing my mental. Every time I drove a car, could’ve twisted the metal.” Bellion goes on to say that he is a “cross between hard work and Jesus-anointed” and hopes “the ceiling that needed grace is the final notion.” He understands that God gave him his gifts and talent. At the same time, it takes hard work to steward those gifts to their fullest potential. When all is said and done, it is grace that saves his soul.
Bellion’s art never shies away from transparency. In “Mah’s Joint,” he talks about his fear of having dementia like his grandmother when he grows old. So much so that he has taken dietary steps to lower the risk of developing the disease when he’s older. The first verse details the battle that he wages in his head between opposing voices: “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 seventy?’ Conversations with my Father and he’s telling me there’s a point in making memories ‘cause they’ll be even better when we’re heavenly.” It takes Bellion just a couple of lines to help us realize how scary dementia can be, but through his faith, he finds a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if he loses his memories in this life, he will remember them when he enters eternity.
“Mah’s Joint” is also a tribute to his mother for caring for his grandmother with humility and grace. “There’s a “sorry” that you faked to keep her happy when she thinks she hasn’t seen you in so long. There are things that she’s not able to remember so I took tonight to put it in a song. That when she meets God, He’ll tell her all about it. When my mother was a mother to her mom.” This is Bellion’s most touching and beautifully-written song on the album.
Jon Bellion’s second studio album was his most digestible work of art to date. It has every component to qualify it as a masterpiece. From the visuals to the sounds, from the melodies to the bars, and from the head to the heart, Bellion masters it all.
Welcome to Glory Sound Prep.