What do you call a hip-hop MC who has a rock guitarist and live keys backing him up?
Jerelle calls it Alternative R&B.
Jerelle’s crew includes Colton Maddigan on lead guitar, and Sofia both DJing and on keys. The collective is rounded out by a videographer and graphic designer, too.
Their new project, Undertow, was released on Nov. 24 as Jerelle opened for SonReal at Maxwell’s in Waterloo. Navigating the boundaries of hip-hop and bringing a new sound to the table, this album blends hi-hats with electric guitar solos, this album bounces back and forth between trap and rock.
The album’s third track, Typhoon, quakes with barely-held-together confidence. Set just after a breakup, Jerelle takes us through the creeping doubt of romantic second-guesses.
If Jerelle seems vulnerable, that’s because he wears his heart on his sleeve. He confesses, “I went through a very tough breakup. It went really sour. They wanted all of me and it was that pull and that push of different interests.”
“After that, I went through a bit of a phase where I was going out partying, meeting new people and went though a couple little relationships here and there. And a lot of the songs are just stories. I mean, every song has a real-life story that I’ve been through. And I just build it from raw emotion.”
Working as an independent artist for 10 years, Jerelle is comfortable producing and writing his own material and booking his own shows. But the Waterloo native is now branching out with a larger collective and bigger dreams.
“They’re supporting me 100 per cent, I’m supporting them 110 percent and it’s love both ways.”
Jerelle has his eyes set on stardom, and the trajectory looks good. He’ll be opening for Moosh & Twist on Dec. 27 in Toronto, then a gig in Montreal.