Review: Deejay Zelaya - Soul Gems [EP]

Review: Deejay Zelaya - Soul Gems [EP]

Self Released // "bursting with intelligent swagger and produces the most real hip-hop I’ve heard in a while"

Review   1149 Views

The coining of the term ‘hip-hop’ has been speculated by quite a few, with a handful of legends attached to the birth of the phrasing of a genre of music that’s notorious for a plethora of reasons. Hip-hop is a music mongrel, not in an offensive way, but it takes elements from such a diverse range of genres and created compilation of sounds to become one of the most forceful and powerful genres in our fickle music industry to date. The term ‘hip-hop’ is often credited to Keith Cowboy, a rapper with Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, as he was teasing a friend who just joined the US army, and he was scat singing ‘hip/hop/hip/hop’ that mimicked the rhythmic pattern of a march. He later used this in some of his music, where ‘disco rap’ evolved to ‘hip hop’.

There are no movements that remain stagnant in music, well clearly, otherwise they wouldn’t be called movements at all! It’s an ever changing and developing artistic sector where artists and bands alike work on trying to create new sounds and experiments, bending boundaries and conventions and morphing the old into something newer, yet with hints of nostalgia and tradition entrenched deep within the music.

LISTEN // Soul Gems EP



Enter Deejay Zelaya. After only one listen of his EP Soul Gems, it’s clear to say that he’s a pioneer of the modern day underground hip hop scene. What’s truly magical about him is his ability to produce fresh beats and rhymes, yet pulling elements and fragments of an array of musical genres, creating an infusion of all sorts of music you come across within the walks of life, jazz, R n B, pop, classical, lo-fi, to name a few, which leaves you hankering for more.

His lyrics are doused with meaning and messages as opposed to the usual shallow pap that mainstream hip-hop artists sing about. You get a real sense of passion and purpose when Deejay Zelaya takes to the mic, and with his craft in making beats that are chilled out, laid back and hauntingly real backdrop, his sound echoes truth and desire a whole lot louder than his mainstream contemporise. An example of such intention within his poetry is ‘Gravity’, a track that’s fuelled with real-life project stories that are not forced and desperate, but ringing home truths and resonates his personal struggle and history.

As I’ve already stated, there’s so much going on musically in tracks, every time you approach the EP, it’s like listening to a different song over and over again. ‘Better Noit’ reflects the hustle and bustle of everyday inner city life. It’s as if the music is shimmering around the words, a busy accompaniment singing the same song but in a language that we usually let sift by us and take in as ‘street noise’, but if you take a listen, we’re encompassed in a sonic soundscape where hundreds of stories are being told simultaneously.

‘World on Fire’ opens with a 70’s-esq soul singer, adding even more history and influence to the EP, proving the versatility on offer. Deejay Zelaya narrates his utter determination to succeed, despite the odds, and the soul/disco hints make it ridiculously mainstream. ‘Made it Here’ has a hot jazz piano looping, accompanied by a gorgeous moody muted trumpet, drenched in chilled undercurrents, proving to be a little sigh of loveliness amongst the intense mix Soul Gems has to offer.

Deejay Zelaya is bursting with intelligent swagger and produces the most real hip-hop I’ve heard in a while, filled with urban stories and narrating the events that unfold behind your neighbour’s doors. If you’re a fan of the likes of Frank Ocean, then keep an eye on this hip-hop connoisseur as his debut EP holds a heap of promise.

Soul Gems is out now

Worth checking out:
  • Gravity
  • Made it Here
  • Better Noit
  • Soul

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