Released on July 15th, rapper J. Gillie’s newest mixtape ‘Elmhurst Since Birth’ is a body of work with a multifaceted sound—a mix of 90s-era hip-hop with a contemporary retouching, all presented with the artist’s signature sharp voice and distinctive energy. By creating new conversations within old structures, Gillie has the ability to earn the respect of real hip-hop heads while garnering attention from young audiences in need of more inspiring art. With its blending of styles, moods and emotions, the project feels like a breath of fresh air with undertones of nostalgia.
The intro features a young 50 Cent quote about the distortion between the hungry, ambitious youngsters in the game and the old heads who can’t accept that they didn’t live up to their aspirations; a part of the former group, J. Gillie is focused on sustained longevity in his career through a grind facilitated by his own work ethic and drive. This message leads into the single, “No Cosignz,” which presents the rapper’s desire to be successful independently as the premise of the story. In actuality this is the final scene of the movie, edited into the story as the first scene to better help the listener understand the artist behind the music and find motivation within themselves; from here, the rest of the project proceeds to explain how Gillie came to this mindset.
From, the beginning, J. Gillie raps about the heartbreaking experiences that plagued him growing up; born in Kansas and raised in Delaware, Gillie moved a lot as a child to evade his mother’s substantial drug habit and unstable environment—he was also the subject of many legal battles involving family members and the state. In addition to his upbringing, ‘Elmhurst Since Birth’ deals with pain and suffering caused by old flames, one-night stands, his harsh environment, past mistakes, and social structure, among other topics. On top of this, the rapper often incorporates stories from others which inspire him and clearly weigh on his conscience as well—these range from friends’ stories of ex-girlfriends to gritty crime tales, but all of the anecdotes are constructed with strong emotions to bring out the humanity in every story on the project.
The elements of heartache on the mixtape are interjected with optimism and encouragement on several occasions, but all of the songs on ‘Elmhurst Since Birth’ are intertwined with a strong confidence brought out by J. Gillie’s lyricism, cadence and execution, as well as his ability to turn these losses into artistic wins. Throughout the project his reactions to his hardships range from passivity and nonchalance to rage and regret, leading from retrospective storytelling to introspection as a lifestyle choice. By giving us his story in its raw format, J. Gillie is able to recognize the pain of his past and use it as fuel to reach unforeseen heights in the future.
By the end of the mixtape, J. Gillie has the clear conscience to open up doors for himself and push his brand to new levels, plus the ability to talk about his painful memories without letting them blur his focus. This has been a constant theme in Gillie’s life—in an effort to change his own destiny, the artist graduated with honors from his high school, later earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science at King’s College in PA. An avid reader, it has been a mission for Gillie to bring strong messages to the community while carving and maintaining a legacy, something that this project has potential to create.
The mixtape’s title alludes to the street in Kansas that Gillie was raised on, fitting for a project which effectively tells his personal story while promoting lyricism and positive messages within his music. In addition to bringing out the best of several eras in hip-hop, J. Gillie calls for a return to realness, avoiding counterfeit industry rules for pure-spirited music that serves several purposes and requires many talents. Currently, the rapper is in southern Florida promoting the release of his new project, as well as setting up performances for the near future.
Take a listen to J. Gillie’s new project ‘Elmhurst Since Birth’ below!
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