Jon Bellion’s long anticipated album, Glory Sound Prep, was released into the world on November 9th. Jon Bellion is a multitalented songwriter, artist, and producer who, at just 27, has quite the list of achievements. Bellion has been awarded a Grammy for his contribution to “Monster” by Eminem and Rihanna, has recently collaborated with Christina Aguilera and Demi Lovato for the song “Fall in Line”, and co-wrote and produced Jason Derulo’s “Trumpets”. Bellion also has hits of his own, notably “All Time Low”, which reached the US Billboard’s Top 100.
This list of achievements seems to grow, and Glory Sound Prep is no exception. His sophomore effort, following his 2016 LP The Human Condition, gives a better perspective of who Jon Bellion is as a person and artist. The album focuses on Bellion’s experience with fame and family as well as his relationship with God. There are several Biblical references including Daniel and the Lion’s den, God-given talents, and creation in the image of God. With unique crafting of electronic beats against Bellion’s simple voice and the addition of rapping, Bellion blends all genres. This album expands on his typical hip hop influenced alternative pop sound with melodic hooks and layered synths.
Starting the album is “Conversations with My Wife”, a song that sounds like a classic Bellion song. It focuses on his relationship with his wife in the real world rather than his achievements and digital self. It expresses Jon’s desire to make music for himself and not others - “They’ll say that I fell off, and it’s alright / I’m so ready to run from the spotlight”. This track, the first single released from the album, is a perfect opener.
Next is the track “JT”. This was released as the second single from GSP. “JT” utilizes unique sounds in true Bellion fashion; it’s a song about Jon reminiscing about the past and his dreams. Within the song he talks about holidays in Greece and uses the country in a play on words; “JT” is a reference to John Travolta, the actor in the film Grease.
Following “JT” is “Let’s Begin”, a rapping track featuring Roc Marciano, B.Keyz, and RZA. In my opinion this is the true opening to GSP, “Let’s Begin” sets a specific scene for GSP. Every time I listen to this track, I’m particularly taken aback from this verse from Bellion: “I love the song and we really wanna know how you made it / Or I could keep all you wondering how we been creatin’ / It’s annoying when cameras catchin’ your every statement / And I’ve had enough of these corny artists that replicate it”.
Bellion is known for publishing videos on “the making of” a certain song which gives insight to his audience about his creative process. Despite loving these videos as a fan, I’ve never considered the artist’s perspective. I imagine having cameras constantly rolling during a process that is so personal can be exhausting.
“Stupid Deep” follows and it is a more introspective, slowed down song. It reminds me of “NewYorkSoul” from The Separation mixtape. It was the last single released before the album drop; it follows Jon questioning the motives for his musical accomplishments. It’s a melancholy song, but it is extremely relatable. The term itself “stupid deep” perfectly explains that this hole in Jon’s heart might seem ridiculous, yet it truly affects him.
The next track “The Internet”, is an upbeat song that is direct commentary on our digital society. It is too often that we try to create ‘cooler’ versions of ourselves on social media to make others jealous. Through the advancement of digital technologies it seems we’ve lost a bit of humanity; we seem to neglect about how a person is honestly feeling because his or her social media profile says differently. The pre-chorus summarizes it all: “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”.
Track six is “Blu”, is another song focusing on Bellion’s wife. It’s about him falling in love and giving up a little control of his life, my favorite lyric comes from the chorus : “Fall into your blue / Fighting it is hopeless, sinking in your ocean / Just like He designed me to do”. It shows that Jon feels that he and his wife belong together so much that God planned this out for him.
Following “Blu” is “Adult Swim”, a mixtape style song featuring TUAMIE. It goes through how others perceive Bellion’s fame and Bellion’s accomplishments. It gets personal revealing Bellion’s switch to a plant based diet, Beyonce’s request for the song “Fall in Line” for Chloe x Halle, two young sisters she signed to her label, and Bellion’s relationship with God, citing that he’s a “cross between hard work and Jesus anointed”.
The next track is “Couples Retreat”, which is a softer dance jam about a relationship that’s on the rocks. It might be my least favorite track on the album, but it has a simple sound that isn’t overproduced. Second to last is the song “Cautionary Tales”, which takes another look at Bellion’s fame and secretive personal life. It describes Bellion as an ‘urban legend’ that many don’t know much about despite being known for his music. Will Smith sings the chorus, and it adds a nice touch to the track.
Closing out the album is the eight minute long outro, “Mah’s Joint”. At first listen, it’s a confusing track. It’s a song about how Jon views his mother taking care of his grandmother, who is experiencing dementia. Once the vocals end, it’s followed by some brass instruments (horns and trumpets) that serve as a celebratory portion and later fades into a more ethereal sound. I’ve grown to love this outro for GSP, but I’ll be honest it isn’t a go to track of mine.
Overall, Glory Sound Prep is an amazing piece of work. This 10 track album is perfectly crafted; as a listener I wish the album was longer, but I know that the way the album is crafted it doesn’t need more songs. My favorites have to be “Conversations with My Wife”, “Stupid Deep”, “Blu”, and “Adult Swim”. From the personal lyrics to the instrumentation, listeners gain insight about Jon as person, not just as an artist. Bellion’s vulnerability is what makes him a good artist and this album, particularly spectacular. I haven’t concluded if this album tops The Human Condition (I’m extremely attached to “Hand of God [Outro]”), but I know that GSP is definitely one of my favorite albums released in 2018.