Local hip-hop artist Jonathan Kelly, artistically known as J. Kelly, held a listening party at his alma mater, Florida A&M University to seek constructive criticism and promotion for his upcoming album “Controlled Substance” on Wednesday at 8 p.m.
Born and raised in Tallahassee, J. Kelly grew up surrounded by many influences. His music career started while attending FAMU for basketball and earning his bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism in 2006.
The young artist had an interest in media but he undoubtedly knew his passion lied within his music.
Once Kelly started to take his music seriously, he wanted to bring a new approach to music. He feels as if rap has drastically changed over time but wants his music to be the defining line.
“I want to bring substance into hip-hop. I feel like hip-hop is a little mundane and watered down, making it boring. I feel like I’m listening to the same thing over and over, so I wanted something that brought life and substance where people can take something positive from it,” J. Kelly said.
Throughout his music career J. Kelly has made music, like with his earlier tracks “Higher Learning” and “Grind Now,” that embraces the struggle and encourages others to feed their mind. Avid listener Mark Giles, fourth-year broadcast journalism student from Bradenton, said he enjoys listening to the positive messages he hears in J. Kelly’s music.
“His transparency on each track gives the listeners a reason to latch onto the project. A lot of his tracks are layered with the truth,” Giles said.
Kelly has been crafting his album for the past eight months with the help of producer and engineer, Carlos Wilder. Wilder expresses how he hasn't took on a project like this in a few years, but he's confident about the finished product.
“I haven't done a project like this in awhile, but once we got into the studio and put in those hours, I knew I still had it,” Wilder said.
The duo wanted to hear the opinion of the public by hosting a listening event right where it all started, FAMU’s School of Journalism and Graphic Communication. With a crowded room full of anxious listeners, Kelly and Wilder presented all 13 tracks, including “Illmatic Genius,” which he recently shot a music video for in the past week.
No release date has been set for the album but the rapper does expect to release “Controlled Substance” publicly with iTunes and other music mediums.