Chris DeLine

Cedar Rapids, IA

Kellen “Time of Your Lyfe”

Published in Blog, Break on a Cloud. Tags: , .

Kellen Road Knightlyfe

As the story goes, one night a few friends were sitting around relaxing while the instrumental version of “Feel So Close” began to fill the air. Not realizing who produced the track, Nashville vocalist Kellen asked who was behind it — only to find out that the friend who was playing it had planned on using the Calvin Harries track for one of his own songs. “Pretty much I beat jacked’em,” joked the singer when asked about it.

“Since I also love pop music, I put my spin on it and threw it on the mixtape to show some diversity.” The final cut “Time of Your Lyfe” appears on the 13-track Road 2 Knightlyfe which dropped about a week back, offering some of that welcomed diversity to the smooth production that supports the bulk of the release. “I wanted make people feel good and that’s exactly what the beat feels like.”

R&B is a difficult genre to gain a distinct voice in. A few years back when Maxwell released BLACKsummers’night, a friend of mine spoke to the stale progression within the genre’s frontrunners, “R&B kind of sucks these days, what with halfway talented singers using autotune to warble clichés over throwaway hip hop beats.” It’s something that bothered me then, and something that I continue to have a hard time with: OK, you’ve got a great voice… and?

What Kellen’s doing here doesn’t necessarily buck that trend — piggybacking on already-successful tracks is what continues to make mixtapes work — but it shows that the young singer is at least trying to think about stepping outside of the traditional mold, and is able to sound good in the process. “To me the song brings that extra energy that was needed to kinda set me apart.” Hard to argue with that.

For more from Kellen check out “Believe,” his collaboration with P.A. Lit which Lit calls his personal favorite from the recently released Birth of a Wave album.

[This article first appeared on Break on a Cloud.]