Our childhood’s are precious factors in our lives. So precious, that when they ever happen to be shattered – we relapse further into this scary concept understood as adulthood. A huge amount of time on this Earth by us humans is consumed by dealing with such a transition. And with that said, Jon Bellion’s fourth mixtape, The Definition, is a definite elegant romanticized version of this struggle. Not only do we hear the worst sides of maturity, we begin to wander throughout it from a child’s world and mind.
Bellion, the songwriter who has written beside Eminem and Rihanna on their hit “The Monster” as well as being the producer and co-songwriter on Cee Lo Green’s latest single, “Robin Williams”, has no fear in showing off his lyrical and compositional prowess and delight on this project. And by surprisingly being so free with himself and holding nothing back, whether it be that one word that would hurt too much, that one sentence that might make us cringe after envisioning it or something, I don’t know – worst – we are allowed to be free as well. We are allowed to be released from our daily worries as we feel him break the very chains that wall us back into emotional captivity.
The Definition is a pearl of beauty that must be explored and experienced on one’s own time and will to truly fall in love with it’s existence, and it is highly recommended you take that chance.
Atmosphere Bellion has mentioned in multiple interviews that his inspiration for The Definition derived from watching Pixar films. This eventually led to him linking up with Pixar’s concept artist Natalie Millan to work on the music video for “Luxury” – which in fact denotes the entire arch and story behind the mixtape’s lyrics and music.
His production stays simple for the whole project. He moves rarely from the key of A# and every once and a while jumps into C major and C# just to switch it up, but such keys and continuous motion between them keep a consonance of color for the listener’s experience. And thus, that’s why everything sounds pretty kiddish and adorable. The notes being played aren’t harsh, but they aren’t soulful either. They’re pretty, they’re spacious, they’re happy – regardless of how sad a song may get. This project is the type that you put on as a lullaby in the early hours of the day, before the sun has risen. It keeps you levitated.
In the case of Bellion’s voice, he’s an angel, leading us down this path of darkness and protecting us with his words and every subsequent harmony. An interesting side of this happens to be the amount of things Bellion does with his voice generally and how he eventually decided to mix it amongst the instruments. His pure understanding of the fact that his vocals are instruments within themselves sets him to be more aesthetic than most. Whether it be reverb on his normal vocals or pitching his voice down and up to present the introduction of a new character, we get the sense that there are multiple people on each song, even though (unless there’s a featured artist) there is only one. This strategic placement of vocality and harmony on The Definition causes us to lose ourselves in Bellion’s music, relating back to that idea of helping us be released from the chains of struggle.
Rhythm & Tempo There are intricacies and delicate thoughtfulness found throughout The Definition, placed by Bellion, that enable it to sit so far away from most artists out today, but simultaneously stand it’s ground. One element that should be noted is Bellion’s strict attention to the feels of his percussion against the massive beautiful harmonies and melodies he creates.
His drums are what make a song like, “Pre-Occupied” so full of life and carefree energy. It’s what causes you to lose your mind when listening to the tense and growing world found within “Run Wild” but still put an effortless smile on our faces during the triumphant conclusion of “Simple And Sweet”. He keeps everything below a 115 bpm. And even at some of the lowest pockets and rhythms we may find, he continues to revitalize our bodies and nod our heads at his genius.
While the kick is keeping us bobbing back and forth, the snares somehow have us going right and left and suddenly – we’re dancing in circles. We’re dancing like children again.
What proves to perhaps be even more artistically brilliant, is when Bellion decides to not let us enjoy the arrangements of his rhythmic sections. He’ll keep a song like “Simple And Sweet”, so oceanic in nature that when we close our eyes, we’re floating. This complements his lyrics as he holds the woman he speaks of intimately and close. Then he’ll quickly decide to switch this up on us once we get too used to it – picking the tempo up to a gigantic eye-opener. Now they’re enjoying the morning after – recognizing they’re encounter is more than just luck. This is what constantly keeps listeners interested and satisfied.
Structure & Cohesiveness The Definition appeals to listeners in numerous ways and perhaps one of the most evident would be the structure of it’s journey. It’s a spiritual venture to say the least, lyrically and musically – but you don’t have to necessarily be religious or highly sensitive to the elements of the unknown to feel the profound and maybe even life-changing message being relayed.
Every song follows your average ABA (Verse, Chorus, Verse) structure found throughout the music industry today. Multiple songs, including “Haunted House”, “Jungle” and “Ooh” have bridges present, whether with lyrics or left at an instrumental, but with this simple construction, what makes The Definition differ in artistic expression?
It’s Jon’s lyricism. What he gets through in just four lines of vocality and musicianship reaches farther than what may seem. Though some lyrics may seem direct and boastful, “Fast forward now I’m 22/half a million after Texas just to make a couple songs/and I don’t mind”, others deepen the tale being presented, “They told me my attention span aligned/somewhat with a child or a fly” as Bellion explains the constant hostility and put downs found around him as those he cared for most called for him to stay bounded by mediocrity.
Jon creates a story that follows his life during the recording of the project. While the first three tracks of the mixtape have a braggadocios feel and a free-spirited ingredient shared between them, we see Jon gradually change his views on the workings of the world. Though “Munny Right” begins the tape and immediately proves to us that Bellion has completely no care and full disgust for those who try to stand against him without anything to prove they are better – “Carry Your Throne” touches on the strength of his sexual finesse and “Pre-Occupied” without a doubt is meant to be his metaphorical middle finger to the terrible artists of the music industry and his negative critics, everything afterward begins to ascend into higher learning. “Luxury” ends the tape on a high note (both musically and literally), telling us that Bellion no longer aspires to be the greatest or better than anyone, but rather just have others and himself simply be happy and proud of who he’s become. A man.
We witness Bellion go from being stuck up and pretentious to having a more loving heart and spiritual outlook on his decisions regarding family, friends, fans and those he’s lost in his life, whether alive or dead. His introspection, stirs our curiosity and causes us to even reminisce our choices. He proves he’s “Human”, despite how much he may prefer not to be. And as listeners, that’s all we ever really want or maybe need to hear. That you’re a red-blooded, like-minded human being. That you’re us.
The childlike heart of the tape helps to reinforce this. Bellion grows song after song. He transcends to the point of eventually not needing to have lyrics for a chorus he’s written, but rather have the music speak for itself, and this comes from him endlessly searching for who he is from track 1 to 11. The “Pixarish” feel of The Definition also builds upon the idea of innocence. Bellion often mentions across the tape that things are much more evil and threatening than how they appear in the music industry or just in general, but while doing this, he’ll say it in passing most often playfully to not scare the listener but rather cause the listener to realize how easily one can be deceived or played with by anyone they know. We’re still newborns in many aspects of our lives and Bellion wants to make sure that we know protection is key as our world’s widen.
The Definition of Merriment As 2016 approaches, the wait for Bellion’s future work is unquenchable. But with the release of The Definition last fall during 2014, we’ve been able to have just enough to keep us going.
This project has defined for many what they’re true purpose and choices should be as well as find love for who they are once more. Bellion is a bright star in this detail, for while many artists in the industry do not bring the elements of daily average mortal life into their art (clearly since they don’t live that way anymore), Bellion takes the greater amounts of personal information and fears he withholds and places them on the table. He takes every moment of his life that he can remember before his big moment and speaks about that, rather than how his new accomplishments have affected his life.
It’s clear to see we have another artist paving the way for many others to come. Salute to visionarymusicgroup for getting this man where he deserved to be.
is a multi-talented actor, recording artist, filmmaker, and entertainment entrepreneur with M. StageScene Communications, Corp. Royale is a graduate and adjunct professor of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music (where he also earned a minor in Cinema Studies). Royale also is a graduate of the acclaimed Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, where he studied Drama. Royale hails from St. Albans, Queens — a neighborhood that was once home to many legendary musicians, such as James Brown, John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne, A Tribe Called Quest, and Count Basie.