The Popular Loner is California-based rapper BledJon’s debut foray into the Hip-Hop world. Released on the 20th November, it features 14 tracks produced by no less than 9 different producers.
The album is based around BledJon’s struggle to find his identity, and a lot of the lyrical content ties in with the “coming of age” thematic.
To this end, BledJon kicks his album off with Intro to Infinity, a lengthy (almost 3 minute long!) spoken-word diatribe that doesn’t really help to set the album’s mood. To be fair, long spoken word intros have never been my cup of tea. But as far as they go, this one sounds quite self-indulgent and could have easily been left out. BledJon however more than makes up for this mis-step with the second track and first proper song, Doughnuts.
Also known as Jonathan Hopkins, BledJon hails from the San Francisco’s Bay Area. Brought up by musician parents, he was exposed to lots of different styles of music from a very young age. Ironically, he confesses that his mother wouldn’t let him listen to rap. Clearly, that didn’t prevent him from being exposed to and falling in love with the genre along the way.
The Popular Loner is certainly diverse, and often incorporates BledJon’s unique influences in ways that work incredibly well. Doughnuts features a piano sample that gives off a distinctly 1920s vibe, while Fievel is tinged with middle-eastern flavours – an unusual choice for a Hip Hop song that however pays off in spades. Other highlights of the album include Piece of Mind, which incorporates some unconventionally glitched but very soulful singing and closer Passover, which features an incredibly strong guest performance by Casia Joy.
Clocking in at 55+ minutes, The Popular Loner does sometimes feel like it’s overstaying its welcome; and it sure is a lot to digest all at once. But BledJon has talent. Barring the inevitable weaker track or two, the music is incredibly creative and the lyrics are clever and thought-provoking. It’s an album that will reward multiple listens, and that’s a rarity these days.