A soulful crooner of immense talent, DeeJaeeBee delivers a musical rite of passage with his debut effort The Baptism. Throughout the album's offerings listeners are immersed in the sounds of Neo-Soul, a genre rare around Juice Town. DeeJaeeBee, who hails from the hip-hop group Locally Grown Collective, initiates OC with his baritone vocals, poetic rhymes, and reflective tales of love's travails.
The singer/rapper assembles a diverse crew of local producers for The Baptism including 4th Beats, Hands Uno, YoKartelli and others. On "Young Man, Old Soul," DeeJaeeBee strike a tone recalling the spirituals as he repeats the track's title over layered harmonizing. His Locally Grown Collective cohorts DaveAllen and Endz team up for the triumphant title track showcasing that DeeJaeeBee flosses proficient rhymes, too. "Love Fades Away" is another Neo-Soul standout beaming with the lessons of breakups that come in life. Towards the end of The Baptism, the realization of just how complete an album it is sets in. Sure, there are tracks that are stronger than others, but the entirety of the effort is a compelling achievement.
On what song most displays his growth as an artist: When I was writing "The Baptism," the title track, I came early to the studio. I just had a moment to think about what I gone through already in the songs I had already written and what I wanted to do next. I started thinking about this journey over this past year and how that lines up with my whole life. The first line is 'I didn't know my pops / But became a man on my own terms.' I came from a struggle but I decided not to just live in that struggle. "The Baptism" to me is going into whatever life takes you and how you come out as a new person, that's your baptism, that watery grave that they talk about in the church. The song talks about all of that. It's also the time when I found my voice rapping.
On Neo-Soul and OC: Neo-Soul, in the overall scheme of music, isn't as popular as it used to be for whatever reason. I feel like it's important to maintain. I give my best effort at it. It essentially means 'new soul.' It's hailing back to the Temptations and the music that makes our souls feel good. I definitely want to continue rapping, but my heart is in singing. My favorite music of all time is the Temptations, is Gladys Knight and the Pips. I love Musiq Soulchild and John Legend. That's what soul music is. I hope that I can continue to write meaningful words and combine them with well thought out melodies and harmonies. Hopefully people will accept Neo-Soul a little bit more. If they've never heard it, maybe they'll listen to me and maybe they'll start listening to people doing their thing out there. I hope I bring in a little bit of difference in music style to the OC hip-hop, pop, or whatever world.
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Download the album for free here: http://locallygrowncltv.bandcamp.com/
DeeJaeeBee performs on Reverie's 'Russian Roulette' tour with Gavlyn and others at Diego's DTSA, 224 East 3rd Street, Santa Ana, www.diegosdownown.com; (714) 558-8257. Thurs., 7 p.m., $15. All Ages.