Screenshot via YouTube
Jelly Roll’s most recent album, Sobriety Sucks, would seem to imply that he’s made some tough decisions to quit the daily vices that a hick-hop rapper should be forced to uphold. Yet in his new music video, “California” Jelly claims, “It’s like the Devil's sitting on my shoulder and keeps telling me to come / And I can’t think straight cause I ain’t sober / I only do cocaine in California.” Fair enough. Anyone who has spent a prolonged amount of time visiting the vapid human cesspool that is Los Angeles can understand the temptation, and ultimate surrender, to fall off the wagon.
Directed by distinguished photographer Matt Mahurin, “California” employs a film negative effect of a club dancer and threatening clouds with the cocaine-covered face of Jelly Roll. Until now, most of Jelly’s music videos have found hick-hop’s sweetest-sounding crooner not taking himself too seriously. Mauhirin has managed to remove all of country music videos' cliché symbols and has created a morbid visual—the once fun-loving Jelly now seems as if he’s being prepared for burial, and it’s pretty scary.
”Listen, I get it,” says Jelly. “When you think of country, you think of a guy fucking a goat. That’s not me.” In addition to having a silly name and large physical presence, Jelly isn’t winning favors by being lumped into country’s most hated, rapping niche.
As the genre seems to be reeling back to a more traditional and contemplative place (see Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson) after its pop and hip hop phases pass by, so, too, is Jelly Roll. Yes, he’s still a rapper, but Jason Deford is a new outlaw to country music. The Nashville establishment has perpetually ignored the outsiders to their industry. But Jelly continues to put out an ever-evolving body of work, with surprisingly heartfelt lyrics that deal with the issues of addiction and temptation so common in the genre’s dialect.
Scott D. Pierce is a producer for Noisey on VICELAND. Follow him on Twitter.