“If you like the old me, there’s plenty of artists that do what I was doing four years ago and they do it very well now. For me, it’s just not how I can remain passionate about the gifts that God gave me.”
After dropping his fifth album Glory Sound Prep, Jon Bellion was silent. He didn’t run around promoting it, signing posters or appearing for interviews. That is until – to everyone’s surprise – he interviewed with Genius, a music media company, to discuss his “backward” way of sharing music. One fan even commented on the Youtube post saying, “’Jon Bellion talks’… that’s all I needed to click.”
But his silence was not inattentive, but rather clearly calculated.
His previous album The Human Condition was mainly focused on getting Bellion a top ten record that was produced himself. However, Glory Sound Prep wasn’t about streams or spoon-feeding his already illustrious fan-base. It was about growth and creating greatness – not a greatness as defined by his fans or the plaques on his wall, but greatness to himself. Bellion’s kind of greatness is one that gets him head nods from authentic, but underground rappers and, most importantly, allows him to maintain his passion for creating.
Bellion was quiet after releasing Glory Sound Prep because he wasn’t looking for “24-hour reviews.” The glory of his creation wasn’t hinging on other people’s opinions of whether or not he measured up.
Diverging slightly from the catchy pop The Human Condition was rooted in, Bellion was ready to join the humble ranks of rappers such as Tuamie, Roc Marciano and RZA. Evolving and changing his sound, despite the possibility of unpopularity, was the only way Bellion would be proud of his art.
There’s a lot we can learn from Bellion’s method of creating – producing, unveiling and releasing control. What if when artists released an album they did just that – release it – instead of try to mold and streamline how we listen through music videos and talk show appearances?
Art should be a constant process of personal growth and striving to better steward the gifts God has given us. We aren’t made to stay stagnant, but rather to challenge ourselves and others with our art. This is the only way to keep that passion kindled and, in turn, use it to give glory to God. Without passion, our gifts and talents are likely to go to waste.
But let us not forget that this passion isn’t coming from a desire to taste sweet fame and sugary riches.
As Bellion says in his song, “The Internet:”
“Life became dangerous the day we all became famous.
No one cares if you're happy, just as long as you claim it, oh
How can we change this? The day we all became famous
No one cares if you have it, just as long they think you do, ooh”
For Bellion, “having it” means rapping more and collaborating with artists that might not get streams, but make albums with shelf lives longer than those on a yearlong Top 40 repeat cycle.
For you, maybe “having it” means something different. But, whatever “it” is, the opinions of others should not affect your creation. Don’t be afraid to reevaluate your art and then change and evolve. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to get past surface level; scare, shock, and challenge people with your art. Go stupid deep.