Which came first: Jelani or his shell?
This twist on the classic “chicken or egg” question popped into my head in September 2019 when Atlanta artist Jelani Imani released The Shell, and again when the deluxe version of the album surfaced in March of this year. However, we’re dealing with an eccentric artist who’s thoughtful enough to answer the question himself.
Jelani’s attention to detail pervades his discography. His cover art, song titles, and consistently trippy visuals give us an inside look into his world. Similarly, the music video for “b better.” (directed by brendino and bryanbbl) focuses on Jelani’s introspection. As he sings in the chorus, he’s on a “quest to find [himself] and find [his] friends,” knowing it takes a certain level of vulnerability to share the uncertain angle of one’s journey. Furthermore, Jelani is ultra-aware of his emotions. The video’s emphasis on nature conveys his open-mindedness when it comes to finding answers in the world around him.
Your eyes and ears may spend the rest of the summer begging for new Jelani Imani videos. In the meantime, “b better.” will have you snapping your fingers while contemplating self-improvement. Who wouldn’t want that?