Pell Recalls Introduction To Kanye West's, Black Star's Music
Exclusive: "You represent your city best by being who you are," says New Orleans rapper Pell.
Pell released his debut album, Floating While Dreaming, earlier this year. The concept of the album is all about pursuing dreams. When he dropped out of college to focus on his music career, his parents weren’t happy.
“They now support me,” Pell says in an exclusive interview with HipHopDX, “because they’ve seen how much positive I’m bringing to not even just the game, but to people in our neighborhoods.”
Pell says he gets his retro style from his father. Instead of gold chains and oversized jeans, the 22-year old rapper will be seen wearing printed button-ups.
“My dad is very funny,” Pell says. “He’s still stylish, I’d say, right now. I think back in the day, a lot of the pictures that I saw of him, he was always like in the coolest clothes and it’s kinda just all I know in terms of dressing to impress.”
Pell's wardrobe is not the only thing that is old school. The visual for 2013’s “Ca$hin,” for instance, is a lyric video over a series of montages from the 1950s and he also has Floating While Dreaming available as a cassette tape. He says embracing this style is what has made him successful because this is how he feels his best.
“Your attitude determines your latitude,” he says. “You feel good about yourself. You should have a really nice style to complement it and you should have a really nice mind to complement that, like everything coincides with one another.”
Pell’s Brother Introduced Him To The Music Of Kanye West, Black Star
Pell is close to his older brother, Micah Pellerin, a cornerback for the Tennessee Titans. The rapper describes his own success with a phrase he got from Micah.
“‘It was unexpectedly expected,’” Pell says. “It was everything that I wanted and like more, but at the same time it’s everything that I worked for, so it’s expected.”
Micah gave Pell his Rap education, introducing him to artists such as Black Star and Kanye West.
“He’s helped me,” Pell says, “know what good music is and how to evaluate my own music in the mix and make the best music that I can possibly make.”
Pell grew up in New Orleans, but was forced to move to Mississippi in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He lost a lot in the storm, but says he gained a lot, too.
“Hurricane Katrina taught me a lot,” he says. “Mainly it taught me that nothing lasts forever and material possessions are so frivolous. There’s no reason to actually cling onto them ‘cause obviously I lost a lot of things ‘cause I had to leave a lot of things behind. But in the same regard, I gained new friendships and a new perspective on life that was outside of my bubble, which was New Orleans at the time. So it’s really good to be exposed to new experiences.”
Even though most rappers are boastful about their hometowns, Pell does not see a need to shout out his city on every track. He gives nods to New Orleans like these bars on “Eleven:11” from Floating While Dreaming: “Fuck repercussions I’m living and learning/New Orleans dreaming while sipping on Bourbon” referencing the liquor and Bourbon Street in Louisiana. But he wants his positive attitude and quality music to speak louder than NOLA references every other line. He says he wants his music to reach as many people as it can and doesn’t want to be limited by regional loyalties.
“I feel like you represent your city best by being who you are,” Pell says. “That could be what the city made you. But also that could be what you’ve been inspired from like outside of the city as well. So it’s kinda like I’ve never understood the point, people know where I’m from and I rep them just by sharing music and telling people that I come from there. I feel like boasting about it too much can get in the way of being able to actually relate to people who are outside of your city. I don’t want it to feel like it’s just something that can be enjoyed from people who wanna hear something from New Orleans. I want it to be enjoyed from people who just love good music. Being from New Orleans is just the icing on the cake. It’s cool, but I don’t want it to define who I am as a person because it’s not about where you’re from. It’s about where you’re headed.”
And Pell believes that he is headed in the right direction after dropping out of school, working as a full-time musician and looking forward to the future.
“I define success as making peace within your decisions,” he says, “having more victories than losses and more great moments than like regretted moments. I feel like success is just being happy with what you’ve done and what you’re going to do. That’s really what it means to me.
“I’m definitely on the path towards success. It hasn’t hit me fully yet, but I feel like there’s also different levels to success,” he continues. “I still push for more to keep the success flowing.”