Just a few years ago, Jaleel Felton didn’t have time for music: he was too busy winning medals in track and field as an elite runner in high school and college.
But on Friday, July 23, the Jersey City-based artist now known as LeeL will release their new full-length album, the enigmatic track “13XXII,” a complex and passionate collection of songs that is sure to turn some heads.
“New Years 2018 is when I officially started,” LeeL noted. “I got my first D-Pad (a digital controller), I got Logic Pro, and that’s really when I started creating, I started having fun. And I’ve been creating music under this nickname ever since. In fact, my first song – the first official song I released as LeeL – was on my birthday, January 5, 2019. ”
LeeL started out by creating beats that other singers and entertainers could use as backing tracks, but that didn’t last long.
“I started making beats and then I had to build my confidence to put my own voice into it,” LeeL said. “I always wanted to start making beats for others, but at first you could tell my beats were lacking something that other people really liked. I always found a vibe and always found pleasure in the beats I made. And that’s really how it started. I was like, OK, well, no one else is going to rap on it. I will do it myself. And then that’s really how I started to develop my sound and my style.
LeeL’s music – as evidenced by “13XXII” and several earlier releases – combines ethereal and often evocative sounds and rhythms with sung and rapped vocals that find a pop melody as part of the overall groove.
Five of the 10 tracks include collaborations with friends like AD Robinson, a former track teammate.
LeeL may be a producer, engineer, singer, songwriter, and rapper, but his social networks have a simple label: “Indy Artist.”
“I’m a freelance artist, I do everything myself, you know, I don’t have a label, I’m not funded by anyone to go out and make this music, I’m the one who finds ways to get my music out. music there, “he explained.” I do everything myself. And I feel like I want it to be known.
LeeL’s music is distinguished not only by its emotional honesty and frankness, but also by the respect he shows to women in his songs. His lyrics don’t rely on obscenities and vulgarities to make an impact, and that has raised some eyebrows.
“A lot of people ask me why I don’t insult my songs; they will say, sometimes you swear but you have a very positive vibe, ”LeeL noted. “I think it just came from the message I’m trying to portray. My music has a positive tone. But it comes from some, like deeply ingrained emotions that might not be positive; it can be trauma, it can be pain.
“But at the end of the day, the positivity is what’s going to help you connect with others and it’s also going to help others connect and realize that, you know, there is so much love and love. positivity there, you don’t need it anymore negativity, “he continued.” You don’t need discrimination anymore. You don’t need to denigrate certain genders anymore. of that stuff.
LeeL is on a short tour with indie-rock band Sporting to celebrate the release of “13XXII,” including a free show at 902 Brewing, 101 Pacific Ave., Jersey City, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 24. being on stage with backing tracks for these shows, he would love to see his performances grow to include his own live band and hopes to adopt live performances as an important part of his career.
“That live charisma is something you either have or don’t have, but honestly I have the performance mindset,” said LeeL, a graduate of Pascack Valley High School in Bergen County and the ‘University of Rhode Island. “I have been an athlete my whole life. I was a track runner in college, I was in the top five in the state for the 400 meters. I played in front of large crowds for a while. It’s just a different aspect. But now it’s like my soul, my personality, and my creativity are at the forefront of what people come to see. So it’s a different game, I would say, but it’s still the same. I go about it the same way. I wake up on the day of a show like it’s race day, like I have a competition, like I need to show people what I can do.
“13XXII” will be available on Leelbeats.com and on all major streaming services.