Music Gives Hearts Beats: My Night With Pell


Sponsored Content: The city of New Orleans has a number of nicknames, but at the heart and soul of this culturally rich town in the heart of Louisiana is l-o-v-e. Whether it’s in the gumbo cooked at Mother’s or deep in the bayou at a backyard crawfish boil, every bite of The Big Easy is packed full of fellow-feelings.

To put it in short, Nola is a vibrant community of survivors who would give you the shirts off their backs if asked — even if they were down to their last nickel. But only reading about it doesn’t do the historical metro a shred of justice. You have to head down to New Orleans and walk Bourbon street with a drink in hand, you have to hit Drago’s for a plate of charbroiled oysters — you most definitely have to experience a Second Line parade in the flesh to get a true taste of the 504. And that’s exactly what VIBE did when emerging rapper Pell put the call out to us.

Previously, Pell and I spent the weekend in Miami for his first concert in Florida ever. As a music editor, I have been covering this young man’s rise in hip-hop since 2015, and have witnessed his musical growth over these short 24 months. With Nola-bred blood pumping through his veins, the lyrically gifted artist has evolved from a kid with mixtape potential to a creative force, following in the paths of Southern legends like Lil’ Wayne and Mannie Fresh.

Upon arriving in New Orleans, VIBE visited one of Pell’s first recording studios, which was only a short 10 minute drive from the French Quarters. As a high schooler, the young upstart spent his days after class, holed up in the modest but modern studio, where piles of classic vinyl and instruments were strewn about. He was left to find his voice over 808s and classic samples as his rap dreams lingered throughout his day dreams. Driving his passion was not only his love for music, but also the gems and lessons that his family, and the city of Nola instilled in him.

From his early hang-out spot, we moved onto to a party that started out as a small gathering on Canal street, that quickly turned into a full fledged concert — and after-party — before we all crashed at Mama Pell’s house. As we maneuvered through the shindig, a brass band lit up the atmosphere with live sounds, and of course my Galaxy S8 was there to capture it all — with Samsung’s Gear 360 camera grabbing all angles of the extravaganza. And trust me, when you see the footage, you’ll know why its a special smartphone.

However, the most heartwarming moments of the 24 hour trip, no sleep at all, came when we spent time with Pell, his older brother and his mother. As a Nola natives do, they invited us over for a true home-cooked meal — complete with lots of crawfish, Old Bay seasoning, shrimp, fresh corn, butter soft potatoes, homemade sausage and a ton of laughs. While Mama Pell shared embarrassing stories from her son’s childhood days, (don’t tell him any ghost stories — hint, hint) we were able to get a true sense of why music gives hearts beats in New Orleans.

The Pell family couldn’t help but share their love for New Orleans culture, which is fueled by soulful music, real emotions and a certain Southern hospitality that you just can’t find anywhere else. I’ll be scrolling through these pics in my S8 for years to come.

(Pell also released his new single “Jam” with producer London On The Track).