Hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, home to many hip-hop legends, comes a new up-and-comer by the name of Jonathan Hopkins aka BledJon. Having been raised in a very musical environment by his mother and father, it’s no surprise that Bledjon has an inherent musical ability. He puts this natural talent on full display in his debut album, The Popular Loner. Full of vivid lyricism and clever word play, The Popular Loner finds BledJon searching for himself in an industry known for being unwelcoming and cold. After listening to his album, BledJon has you believing he’s already halfway to the summit despite only beginning his journey,
Where BledJon may lack in flow, he more than makes up for it with his deep, intelligent lyricism and storytelling. Mixing light wordplay with heavier themes is where he finds most of his success, especially on songs like “Letter Man” and “Doughnuts,” whose title is a play on words in itself.
You slipping and he sliding. He shoots, but I don’t run.
No gun, I mean he chutes. I got the ladder. What you want?
I’m on another level with these letters understand me?
My wordplay over stands, I’m bananas in my jammies.
He even references Feivel of the classic children’s series American Tale, naming a track after the aforementioned rodent. While his delivery is somewhat lacking, it is by no means amateur and his style shines on tracks like “Doughnuts” or “Hard To Express.” What he struggles with is the emotion that he puts behind his rhymes. While emotion can be key in creating a veritable and unique style, BledJon comes off on most tracks as aggressive which becomes repetitive towards the end of the album. Although this aggression fits the theme of the album, variation is key in creating replay value, something that is distinctly lacking on most tracks. Commercial success aside, it is encouraging to see that BledJon understands album thematics and how to tie an album together, even over a full fourteen tracks.
Production wise, you wouldn’t guess that this young talent comes from anywhere near the Bay. Instead, BledJon doesn’t tie his sound down and mixes in a variety of styles, from airy instrumentation to the increasingly popular cloud rap. The production highlight comes on the track “Doughnuts” (if you haven’t guessed by now this track is the standout) which is reminiscent of one of our favorite upcoming producer’s sound’s Seneca B. The piano riff is where you hear his parents direct influence into his music, something I’m sure they can be proud of now despite prohibiting rap music until during BledJon’s childhood. The progressive synth in the background rounds it out nicely, and hopefully similar beats find themselves behind his voice in the future.
The Popular Loner helps introduce BledJon in style. Raw talent and an insatiable hunger for success is a deadly combo, one that BledJon already wields with skill. With a little work and perhaps a bit more soul searching, BledJon could find his way into the mainstream and is definitely someone to keep on your radar in the coming year.
“I just want to thank everyone who has encouraged me and just taken the time out to listen to my heart unfiltered.” – BledJon