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First Watch: Pell Takes A Colorful Escape From Digital Distraction On 'chirpin'

Advisory: The above video contains language some may find offensive.

All too often, Southern-bred MCs get squeezed into a stereotypical box to reach the masses. Not so with Pell, the Mississippi-by-way-of-New-Orleans artist whose sound is as eclectic as his look.

Like an international player, he talks about using his mobile device to hook up amorous adventures on "chirpin'," the lead single and new video from his forthcoming girasoulEP. But the song is really about unmasking his desire for human connection in the age of digital distraction.

"Need to get off of the Internet / Searching for something more intimate," he raps over a colorful beat, produced by Rahki.

It's a playful take on kicking his daily addiction. "When I actively engage on my phone, even for something as simple as checking my email, it could snowball into opening up ten apps that don't help my productivity at all," Pell tells NPR via — what else — email. "I'm not trying to be deep — sometimes it just gets annoying."

The title for his new six-song project comes from the Spanish word for sunflower, and he's been busy watering his own seeds following the 2015 release of his LIMBO LP, produced by TV On The Radio's Dave Sitek. Since moving to L.A., Pell's added guitar and keys to his musical repertoire while landing some of his first production credits on film scores and getting his song "Anyone Can Get It" placed within the opening scene of La La Land.

Though traveling has opened doors, he still considers himself a product of New Orleans, where he was raised until Hurricane Katrina pushed his family to Mississippi.

"I'm in Los Angeles now, but New Orleans always feels like home," he adds. "It's inspired me to take pride in myself, especially when I began to realize the personal impact growing up in a community like [that] had on me. There's so much character in the city."

The best part is whenever he gets homesick, the crib is only a chirp away.

Pell'sgirasoulEP, out December 8 on Payday Records / PellYeah LLC, is available for pre-order.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rodney Carmichael is NPR Music's hip-hop staff writer. An Atlanta-bred cultural critic, he helped document the city's rise as rap's reigning capital for a decade while serving on staff as music editor, culture writer and senior writer for the defunct alt-weekly Creative Loafing.