By Jamel Smith
May 3, 2021
Grammy-nominated Southern rap quartet Nappy Roots released their new single, “How I Feel,” featuring Charlotte’s Elevator Jay. This summertime jam is four minutes of inspiring rap bars over some groovy ear candy that would make anyone bob their head.
Co-produced by Atlanta based Wes “WesleyDoesIt” Green and Matt Vassy, “How I Feel,” quickly establishes itself as a peerless track, as it bypasses present-day sonic trends for a classic rap sound reminiscent of the heyday of Atlanta’s Organized Noize.
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Laying atop Green and Vassy’s feel-good production, the rap quartet rounds off a spitfire of gratitude and lessons learned with all the Southern flair they can muster up, as perfectly showcased in the opening bars: “I’m feeling good / I’m living, pimpin’ / We still alive / Shout out my folks in Clemson.” The following lyrical moments are classic Nappy Roots bars– full of gems that would also make for great Instagram quotes.
In true posse cut fashion, each verse bears an individualized perspective on and about life, its struggles, and the triumph in surviving it. Each perspective is unified by an infectious and triumphant chorus by Elevator Jay: “The sun don’t always shine on us and that’s just how it is / But I’m here to stay another day and that’s just how I feel.” Taking a step back, the song is virtually a testimonial service.
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Jay follows suit with the inspirational talk beginning his verse by letting listeners know the status of his mental health: “They ask me how I’m doing / I can’t complain a bit / I feel so alive and no my life ain’t a b*tch.” Life is going well for the Charlotte emcee who reflects on his mistakes and losses. As Elevator Jay’s verse ends, he extends the grace he has for himself to others in a touching final couplet: “It’s all to the good, I don’t judge anybody / I’m just tryna show some love, dap, and hug somebody.”
A renowned artist and producer, Elevator Jay has released three EPs and two studio albums to high praise: Side E (2013), Sum’na Say (2015), Slurred in Mecklenburg (2016), Ain’t Nothin’ Finer (2017), For Y’all (2019)– all of which were self-produced. However, for Jay, a feature on a Nappy Roots track is a full-circle moment. “In 2001/2002, I was riding the bus to middle school with @NappyRoots in my headphones. In 2019, I was blessed with the opportunity to share the stage with them twice in a week. Today in 2021, they released ‘How I Feel’ featuring myself on all streaming platforms,” he expressed in a tweet.
In 2001/2002 I was riding the bus to middle school with @NappyRoots in my headphones. In 2019 I was blessed with the opportunity to share the stage with them twice in a week. Today in 2021 they released “How I Feel” featuring myself Elevator Jay on all streaming platforms. 🙏🏾🍻 pic.twitter.com/BIqxEKg5DQ
— Elevator Jay (@ElevatorJay) April 30, 2021
A personal win like Elevator Jay’s full-circle moment is what fuels the messaging of “How I Feel.” The track is a positive response to the woes of the world. A lot has occurred since last year: the country salvaged its democracy, racial tension has reached a fever pitch, and a pandemic has shut down the world. However, for Nappy Roots and Elevator Jay, this song is a testament to how they persevered through all of it as artists and Black men in America. So, how do they feel? They feel good.