Friday, July 23, 2010

Jhameel is Blowing Up Online

By Kirsty Evans
Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 10:27 AM

Jhameel, the local purveyor of “orchestral dream pop” who was profiled recently in the Express, is starting to garner some attention outside the Bay Area too.

The whole thing started, as many Internet sensations do, on Reddit. With two separate posts, the first on July 15 and the second one day later, both of them raving about the same song, an unexpectedly soulful cover of T-Pain’s “Buy You a Drink”.

It takes a lot to make a song as fundamentally shallow as “Buy You a Drink” sound emotional, but somehow Jhameel pulls it off. Part of the video’s appeal, judging by the comments, was the use of the LoopStation, a compact phrase recording and sampling pedal whose operation is easy to understand once you see it in action. Mostly, though, what seems to have caught the attention of so many is the sweet voice (multiple commenters compared it to Michael Jackson) and the overwhelming air of earnestness.

Although there’s a dispiriting racism on display in many of the comments on Reddit, overall the tone was one of appreciation for Jhameel’s talent and ability to pull something interesting out of such banal source material. One comment. Another comment.

And that’s when it went viral. Links started popping up on popular blogs; we first ran across a link on a major feminist blog. The links were all over the Internet, some with admiring commentary and some simply posting the link. Comment 1. Comment 2. Comment 3. Comment 4.

The cover even surfaced on a subsidiary site of legendary British music paper the New Musical Express (usually a good sign that an artist may be about to make it big).

  • Jhameel

Jhameel himself was alerted to the whole thing via friends on Facebook, making the whole thing an amusing illustration of how many people really do live almost full-time on the Internet. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for young artists starting out, though — Jhameel offers free downloads of his debut album on his web site (, and says there’s been a noticeable spike in the number of people downloading since the video went viral. There’s also been a considerable increase in the number of people watching his YouTube channel.

But why cover T-Pain in the first place? “I chose that song because I thought it be a nice contrast of genres.” he says. “Also I just wanted to have some fun.”

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