In conversation with Denver-based rap artist Jelie for the BBG Blog
"Bradlie Jones, who goes by the moniker of Jelie, is a multi-talented rapper and producer who is at the fulcrum of an evolving Hip Hop scene. Jelie pronounced “Jel-eye” is a very different and uniquely wired musician who isn’t afraid to break the rules and push the boundaries of our perception with her deeply layered lyricism and well-crafted production. Born and raised in Denver Colorado, Jelie has a drive, a focus, and a tenacity that will lead her to become a relentless and unstoppable force in the independent Hip Hop circuit. Jelie is making music that is driven by a desire to motivate, inspire, and tell her story her way." [from Jelie's website] Jelie teaches at our BBG Denver chapter, and performed at We're Here Fest in Fort Collins. We asked her a few questions to learn more about her background and influences.
How did you first get started in music?
My dad was heavily interested in digital art, like music and film. He went to an Art Institute school but dropped out because it wasn't hands-on, he didn't want to take classes that didn't get him results. He accumulated a bunch of equipment when I was a toddler. Most of it was analog, as computers weren't as prevalent then. I was inspired watching him, and I thought it was cool, so I started rapping. When I was 12, I tried making beats with Fruity Loops and Magix Music Maker, but it was too glitchy to figure out, so I gave up. Then when I was 14, I met a kid in high school who used a different software called Reason. I started making beats in that software because I didn't have money to buy beats as a teenager. Also, I thought if my dad could do it, so could I. I was like a kid in an arcade. I had to get specific tickets or points to win prizes. The prizes were software and equipment. The tickets were social capital, money, and skill. I was hooked!
Did you have any significant mentors or role models in music growing up?
Other than my dad, I took an interest in the "weirder" side of music: Tech N9ne, Brotha Lynch Hung, and Eminem, to name a few.I remember studying how Hopsin built Funk Volume, how Nicki Minaj structured her punchlines, and how Kendrick Lamar used wordplay. Queen Latifah is another one. She's done everything! She made me feel like I could too!
What do you appreciate most about the Denver music scene? What's the biggest challenge for you?
I appreciate how we're in the middle of the country and influenced by everywhere around us. The biggest challenge for me is knowing most places around us don't know Denver has a music scene, at least in popular music outside of jazz and bluegrass.
What drew you to teaching and getting involved with Beats by Girlz?
I built my teaching skills through a YouTube channel about music production. After graduating college, I started dabbling in in-person teaching. My friend, Vonna Wolf, started volunteering with Beats By Girlz, so there was a natural path for me to volunteer for the Denver chapter she started.
You were named "Ten Colorado Rappers to Watch in 2023". What's on the horizon for you this year?
I'm releasing a ton of music. I'm also growing my Music Tech internet marketing business. I want to normalize the idea of "local" musicians diversifying their income.
Do you have any advice for young women and non-binary folks in music, specifically in the rap scene?
The people who will love your art already exist. You have to find them. Once you find enough of them, word of mouth takes over and they'll find you!
Learn more about Jelie:
Edited by Nan Macmillan