South-East London rapper Jesse James Solomon has released a sequel to his first EP Strata, returning with the 6-track collection Bleak - produced by the up-and-coming Kiran Kai. Much like the name, Bleak is both lyrically and visually melancholy - with downtrodden and mellow beats propping up an equally monotone vocal. The EP’s artwork does however, sit nicely alongside 2018 Strata - as both were illustrated by Jesse himself, reflecting on the isolation of London that inspired his writing.
In terms of its reception, Bleak has been surprisingly quiet and perhaps under-promoted. Considering the energy surrounding his initial work – most notably his collaborations with Giggs and Sam Wise - the hype around this EP has appeared lackluster and absent. This seems a world away from debut single City Lights (2017) and Under the Sun (2018), that both skyrocketed his career and brought a real buzz to his sound.
The most notable track from Bleak is its opening number Press Fast Forward, a solemn reconstruction of Jamie Foxx and T-Pain’s Blame It. Its clashing, synthy layers and lagging beats work well, however, they are very much stylistic of the EP as a whole - with its entirety failing to expand further than this.
Although a somewhat disappointing move in his musical progression, there is still much in the pipeline for Jesse James Solomon. Heading into the summer, Jesse gets a feature on The Streets upcoming mixtape None of Us Are Getting Out of This Life Alive, alongside Tame Impala, Idles, Ms Banks and more.