Okay, who here has finished Netflix's Ozark? Goddamn I'm trying to write a coherent album post here and I'm just replaying that last scene. I won't ruin it but I hope you've all taken your meds before you hit play on that shit...
Enough about that. This, folks, is BdotJeff. I think it's fair to say it's unlikely you've heard his songs up to now, but if you've followed my posts on Happy Tooth's music you may have heard him drop a verse or two. I was first introduced to his music when he was kind enough to share his second full length Y2K with the blog, and I was fairly quick to judge it just wasn't my cup of tea. That said, my issues with it had much less to do with the talent or creativity he displays, and more to do with a bit of closed mindedness on my part which probably stems from being a mid-30's going on 70's cynic. His work is very strange at times and I just couldn't in the moment get into it. Stylistically it's flashy, colorful and fast paced, kind of an auditory anime if that makes any sense. It's the kind of music that can be easy to dismiss if you're listening with only half an ear as style over substance, but the thing is the substance is absolutely there and you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't give it a chance.
Luckily this dude is persistent. He seems to be very comfortable putting himself out there and waiting for a bite, and I gotta say that more than anything else really started warming me up to what he has to offer. He's been sending us the occasional single and album really only asking for feedback, and as he comes across as a humble, hardworking creative soul I usually do my best to oblige him. So by the time I heard What a Mess I already liked BdotJeff, I just had to make the leap from that to enjoying his music.
But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself. And the caffeine is kicking in, so why don't I drop some background knowledge here? BdotJeff is originally from PG County MD but currently working out of Columbus OH (hence the Happy Tooth connection). He's been a musician since way back, starting with church choir and transitioning to poetry writing and rapping over borrowed beats via YouTube. At 13 he was writing and recording his own work, and he took it all the way to college to become a sound engineer (right here I'll say, some of you know I dabbled in music at one point, and audio engineering is hard ass shit, I was horrible at it. So kudos for that.) He's worked with a number of acts, mostly it seems local folks from the Columbus and Maryland scenes.
Specifically though, what made me really take notice of his work with this album in particular can be expressed best through what he told me about it. What a Mess was conceived and birthed during some of the most tumultuous years of his life. Mania powered it and it was driven by personal loss and mistreatment in love. Is it emo though? Absolutely not. Although in places he slows it down and takes to crooning sadly("pkmn sapphire, fair warning"), he never fails to re-liven it up with good old fashioned stole your woman braggadocio ("B.O.S.S."), returning to his rapid fire style raps. In fact, the point of What a Mess is really to show how a person can experience these things in life but keep the fun alive and get to the other side. I was moved when I read this line from him during the "development" of this post:
"I just want the ability to have my music connect with at least one person that felt or is currently feeling the way I was when I made this album. Since the development of this project I've started a better mental health journey and I just want everyone to know that they can move forward with life even if they're in pain. You are not alone in feeling alone, and if I can spread that idea to at least one listener in my music then I'd say i did my job"
This album isn't perfect. It's not going down in history as one of the all time great rap releases. At times his rap makes it difficult to understand the lyrics, and sometimes the silliness gets to be a little bit too much. I don't want to oversell it. The thing is I liked this album because of it's DIY sound and the personality that shows through the music. Additionally though, the production is very solid, much of it done by him although he has very good guitar and bass work on the album from Bela Peresta aka Lugosi and Sara Smith respectively as well (also I gotta give the nod to xDiggityDee for their production, JamPOP and Fanaticus for background vocals, Brenton Newman on drums. Other features are credited in the song titles I believe). His singing and songwriting have improved since the last I heard from him. And I really think most importantly, it's evident that at some point he's decided to just be himself and shine on his songs regardless of the outcome, who hears them and what they think. Unlike many artists I actually believe this guy wants nothing more than to make some fun music with his friends to help people forget their problems. If you can honestly say you fault a guy for that, then you might be missing the point of music entirely...
See him making fun music with his friends to help you forget your problems right here with "WHOA!"
Get What a Mess as a digital download or stream it here and support a creative soul as they do what they love!