Hip-Hop

Jelie Wrote Mental Health Anthem "Cope" During Pandemic

Jelie releases "Cope" on Friday, May 20.
Jelie releases "Cope" on Friday, May 20. Anthony Chavez
The production of Denver rapper Jelie’s new mental health-centered single, “Cope,” took longer than she anticipated, so the song is coming out rather late in Mental Health Awareness Month.

“I wanted to get it out, but it just didn’t happen,” says Jelie. “Production-wise, it wasn’t ready. We wanted to spend more time on the mix. We ended up working on it longer.”

Finishing the song took a long time, but Jelie, whose name is Bradlie Jones, recalls that the lyrics poured out of her when she sat down to write.

“That’s usually how it works,” Jelie says. “If I like the beat and there’s a vibe and I get an idea, it just flows out.”

She adds that she recorded a rough version of vocals for producer Wicjones so he could flesh out the beat. But a subsequent vocal take lacked the raw appeal of the original, which they ended up using on the final mix.

“It just felt more natural,” she says. “I felt like I was forcing some of the lines, some of the delivery on the words afterward. It was just natural the first time it came out. I couldn’t match it.”

Jelie says she writes about whatever comes to mind and didn’t necessarily set out to write a song about mental health. That said, she adds that as of late, she’s been writing songs with a depressing tone to them. It’s a sign of the times, but she also mines her own life.

“It’s not something you hear all the time on TikTok or you hear picked up on playlists, because they always have a specific kind of vibe,” she says. “I just kind of create what comes to me and what’s authentic to me. If I feel like it’s going to be a trendy song, then it is what it is.”

She wrote the lyrics during the pandemic quarantine in 2020 and says she was dealing with a variety of emotions during that time. She often walks a line between depressed and not depressed, she says, and the line can be blurry some days.

“When you feel depressed, you kind of know it,” Jelie says. “You ask yourself later on, ‘Am I depressed?’ And you’re like, ‘No, because it doesn’t feel like it that.' It doesn’t feel like it used to, but I might be close.”

She says the song helps to destigmatize the discomfort around mental illness.

“There’s not really a platform for people who are depressed,” she says. “A lot of us are empaths. When you're around depressed people, you also get depressed, so nobody wants to hear it. They don’t want to go through this.”

Talking about depression in hip-hop can be a tricky subject. Other genres seem to have open arms for talking about sadness, but the hip-hop world often isn’t as open to it. It’s not unheard of, though, and Jelie points out that the late DMX sometimes touched on his mental illness in his songs.

“You aren’t allowed to show your emotions,” she says. “You're allowed to talk about it, like what’s going on, but you're supposed to act like what’s going on makes you tougher.”

She has friends and family members who struggle with depression and medication. Mental health, and the struggles that it brings, is everywhere, she says, whether we want to admit it or not. Older generations have pushed their own mental health into the ground, worked jobs they hated and then tried to instill ignoring depression in the new generation.

“It’s something people try to ignore and push to the background,” she says. “They don’t want it to represent them, but it’s a big part of who we are.”

Jelie says she created a lot of work during the height of the pandemic. She credits that in part to being a trained music engineer who often makes her own beats. When everyone couldn’t get together to make music, she was perfectly fine doing it on her own.

“I didn’t really need someone else in the room with me,” she says. “That was dope, because I had more time to record myself. There was no one on the schedule. I could make my beats at home, take them to the studio, write, and get the ideas right out there.”

“Cope” will be released Friday, May 20, on all platforms. It can be pre-saved at fitup.jelie303.com. For more music, check out jelie303.com.
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