The announcement that Ye Ali was going to release a new EP, Passion and Patience, this summer came as a surprise to most people—even the artist himself. After dropping his album, Trap House Jodeci in September, the R&B singer had originally planned to release his follow-up project under the same moniker, Trap House Jodeci 2, this fall. "I didn't want [my fans] to wait that long. I've gone almost a year without dropping music. Passion and Patience gave me more of a platform because people just now heard Trap House Jodeci and think I'm a newer artist, but fans of mine have been riding with me for like, four years. So you know, I think that I owe them this."
In the year since releasing Trap House Jodeci, Ye Ali spent three months touring before getting back to the studio. While there, he began working on an up-tempo, dance-y love song called, "Mixing" featuring Johnny Yukon and sang the words "passion and patience" in his verse. The track, which can now be heard on the EP when it drops in a few weeks, is the kind of tune best suited for blasting in your car with friends in the summertime and as a result, doesn't run linear to the kind of slowed down, intimate-setting-sounds heard in his previous work. Pivoting off the theme and melody of "Mixing," the song chiefly served as the point of inspiration for Ye Ali to turn this one line into an entire project. "I think that title just stuck with me when I made that song," he says. "You know, you can't live by one without the other."
When hearing the 26-year-old describe his growth as an artist, the words 'passion' and 'patience' could not be more perfect in describing his metamorphosis. Born in Chicago, but growing up in Hammond, Indiana, Ye Ali fondly recollects being involved in all aspects of music—whether it was in piano lessons, the school choir, drama or band class. "I fell in love with R&B music when I was seven years old, so I knew one day I'd be writing songs like that," He said. Though he didn't listen to rap music till the end of high school, in college he began taking internships in Toronto and Los Angeles, where he did PR work for artists and got involved in the production and songwriting side of making music.
"The singing aspect has allowed me to do more than I was before because I would have to outsource the singing to another artist. I'd end up writing it and doing all the work, and then they would do their part, but sometimes it would take longer or they'd have to redo it. I just took some stress off by doing it myself—that's how the singing came about."
In contrast to the other tracks he's recently released—"Big Body Benz" and "Talk Less"—his recent tracks showcase an insight into the artist's expansive range and musical nuances, displaying a side of him rarely seen. In this song, Ye Ali's voice becomes enveloped by an ambient melody and an airy percussive beat, while his go-to producer IZAÏAH croons wistfully in the background. "It's crazy because i've done risky stuff like earlier in my career when I was just starting out and my sound was nothing like what people are used to now. So the 'under my skin' song, to my homies is like, 'oh you do this shit all the time,' so they were impressed, but they were like, 'People are going to be impressed because they haven't heard you do that.'" However, these songs have received an additional touch courtesy of PartyNextDoor's producer, Neenyo, who caught wind of it and re-arranged it.
"I trust him. I asked him to add one thing though, which was at the end because he made my voice sound like an elephant, which was like crazy. It was in the last 20 seconds and it was this loud bright sound. I was like 'dude can we do that like one more time?' He laughs. "When he hears something, he knows that I know that he's going to fit right into the puzzle and so I don't really have to question what his decisions are."
The track, which is officially titled "Midnight Stand" on the EP is actually a two-part song, though they are both characterized by the same upbeat tempo and dancehall vibe. In "Midnight Stand," Ye Ali shows off more of his range as an artist, hitting sharp high notes that almost resonate behind the prominent instrumentals. The first half, "Refreshing," bleeds into another track called "Under My Skin" and jointly they tell Ye Ali's version of a modern day love story.
"Passion and Patience has certain aspects of Trap House Jodeci, but it is a seasonal project, where even if you listen to it in the winter time, it will still make you feel like it is summer time. I wanted to make sure people had a feeling of vibrant colours, warmth, energy, and dancing," he explains. "It's something that you might not necessarily associate me with, just by listening to my other songs. This is me leaning more to the left side and leaning towards more dance grooves. Trap House Jodeci was me telling these stories about relationships, and I'm doing the same thing on this one, but this time I'm giving you a different perspective and a different side of it."
Andrea Gambardella is a writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter.