Growing up on the rough and tumble streets of Stockton, CA, MBNel knew he had to make something out of himself to avoid an unfortunate fate. Working through his trauma as he contemplates his recent success, Nel shares Started In The South, a new EP. Started In The South EP finds MBNel looking backward, while plotting his next move. The “south” in the EP’s title refers to its position at the bottom of the map–Nel started at the bottom, but he’s quickly emerging from his circumstances off the strength of his authentic anthems.
Adorned with lilting pianos, the EP is a showcase for Nel’s emotional melodic flow, as he digs deep to investigate his darkest thoughts. The first track, “Learn To Love,” discusses the rhymer’s long process towards leaving behind the paranoid mindset necessary for street living, while mixtape highlight “Vent” is a cathartic release of pent-up, raw thoughts. Home to the celebratory single “Don’t Say,” and the album’s most demonic moment, “Other Side” ft. Doodie Lo, Started In The South arrives via Muddy Boyz Ent./EMPIRE.
The new EP arrives alongside the video for “Love Song for the Streets,” the tape’s cathartic closing track. Over emotional pianos, Nel recounts the lessons learned during his traumatic upbringing, ultimately deciding to accept the invisible scars as part of his identity. In the video, directed by regular collaborator Skiimob, Nel dwells in his feelings in a stark warehouse, intercut with clips from tour stops in New York City and more.
Started In The South continues MBNel’s hot streak. He ended 2022 by releasing songs like the devastating ballad “Fadeaway,” dedicated to the memory of a fan who recently passed away, and “Toxic,” a relationship drama and duet with the rising singer Haben. Born and raised in Stockton, a city in Central Cali with a busy rap scene, MBNel built a reputation on the West Coast for his combination of hummable melodies and relatable trench tales. The 25-year-old artist has a loyal following who respond to his naked authenticity, a quality on display on his 2021 project No Hard Feelings. In the wake of last year’s success, Nel is challenging himself artistically, pushing the boundaries of his sound as he continues to express his truth.
Stay tuned for more from MBNel.
© 2023, Seth "Digital Crates" Barmash. All rights reserved.