Jhameel has a background so interesting it is probably included in most articles concerning his exciting brand of pop. The story starts (we think) with him joining the United States army, being able to speak Russian, Arabic, Spanish and Korean, skills probably in high demand for officers (not that we would know). Though for one reason or another – and there are plenty to choose from – he has since left the army having signed an irrevocable contract (sounds ominous) due to the USAs presence in the middle east. Then for this extremely talented individual, he continued on to receive a degree from Berkeley in Arabic in just two years. We assume his interests and musical talents ran throughout these drastic changes, but it was only after having graduated that the artist we know to be Jhameel truly came into existence. I think you’ll agree when we say he is clearly a talented and interesting individual.
Backstories are all well and good, or in some cases bad – hello Lana Del Ray – but does the music match up? Well, in so much as its not the Jimi Hendrix meets Bollywood amalgam that immediately came to my mind, maybe not, but it is brilliant. Having first come to our attention with ‘The Human Condition’, a track we even included in our Fortnightly Fix on Recharged Radio, we were keeping tabs on Jhameel through the latter end of 2011. To shamelessly mimic Pigeons & Planes sentiment, his quirky pop skirts the border between what constitutes indie pop, and the ‘other’ pop that has teenagers nationwide singing into hairbrushes and other such cliches. Though the pop sound is a constant, it’s in the versatility and breadth within a fairly broad genre that has had us enticed.
His latest EP Waves, a combination of his 5 weekly releases late last year provides perhaps the best example to date of this versatility. The EP is a triumph. Starting with the toe tap inducing ‘Collision’, a track US readers may know from the latest Verizon advert, the bar for the EP is set quite high. Next in a different direction is the sugar coated ‘White Lie’, an ode to hip hop structure and the power of a great hook, something that Jhameel can deliver on with ease. The eponymous track ‘Waves’ provides a relaxed interlude. Between the stripped back percussion and charming piano there’s a real tenderness to his considered pop. Wicked shows the inspiration Jhameel found in Prince and Michael Jackson. Between the driving beat and the pre verse yelps, their influence is undeniable. As the darkest track on the EP, the contrasting furious cries and powerful whispers really give his vocals a chance to flex. The final track ‘Pursuit Of Glory’ takes the tempo down a notch, allowing his gentle side to shine through unobstructed. The gorgeously balanced guitar and piano combination plays out over a poetic tale of aspirations for which Jhameel is accompanied by an unknown female vocalist.
Having harped on about Jhameel and his latest EP enough already, it’s probably time you have a listen yourself. Below are some of our favourites, but you can always head over to his website or Soundcloud to download the Waves EP as well as a host of other great releases.
Jhameel – White Lie [right-click to download]
Jhameel – Wicked [right-click to download]