Although still regarded by many as an up-and-coming musical sensation, Coleman Hell has enjoyed a torrid run through the scene since first breaking out almost 10 years ago. Arguably best known for his hit smash “2 Heads,” it was that very same banjo-riddled pop mosaic that put his name on the map, so to speak. The infectious dance tune carved out its own moment in time, having topped several big-name streaming services back in 2015. A record deal with Columbia Records quickly ensued, as the song continued to inch its way up Billboard’s Canadian Hot 100; finally settling in at number 15. With a solidified powerhouse standing firmly behind him, Coleman unpacked his full-length debut, Summerland, in the fall of 2016, earning the artist a Top 30 album to go along with another charting hit, “Fireproof.”
Those who know Coleman Hell understand that his artistry cannot be pigeonholed to fit neatly within one solitary style. The raspy-voiced performer can be looked at as category-crossing savant who can move in and out of different genres with relative ease. Regardless of it being a strategic move to broaden his fan base or an organic process that opened a creative floodgate, the diversification of his output is what makes him a pop-culture chameleon. Prior to producing pop-infused dance numbers, the Toronto-based creative toyed with hip-hop as one half of the rap duo, Burnz N Hell with then partner, Joey Burnz. Before too long, Coleman co-founded the creative collective, Sideways, which over time triggered projects alongside Shan Vincent de Paul, La+ch, Michah and other Toronto-area artists.
As evidenced by his latest track, “Real Me,” Coleman Hell is at home diving right back into his rythym and blues bag. Like so many stories being echoed around the world, Coleman leaned into this period of unrest finding time to reflect and create. Teased first via Instagram while in the thick of a global pandemic, the artist unveiled a snippet of the catchy tune, which sees a bath robe-cloaked Coleman let loose at home. Nostalgically reminiscent of early ‘90s R&B, Coleman’s sultry sonics layer nicely overtop a symphony of chords that stays within a friendly, pop-formatted pocket. Towards the end of the track, the artist switches up his melodic delivery for a trap-style flow that bounces in crescendo alongside some progressive piano keys. The artist’s messaging was clear; to remind everyone what the “real me” looks like.
Although lyrics like, “Yeah I know I look weird without a beard, and I feel so insecure sometimes I wish I could disappear, but because of my career, all these people keep on looking saying that my clothes are kinda funny and my teeth are kinda crooked” may come off as lightly humorous, the subject matter contained within hits close to home for Coleman. The artist has been candid about his struggles with bipolar disorder, and even came to grips with what he had been going through in a track dubbed “Manic.”
“A big part of my identity has always been fashion. I love unique clothes but have felt self conscious about wearing them in the past. Afraid of peoples judgment. It’s this intersection of wanting and not wanting to be seen. Over time I’ve built the confidence to dress the way I want and this collection is a reflection of that.” — Coleman Hell
His long, drawn-out battles with the ailment adds a certain sentimentality to his craft, elevating his musical output to levels unfathomable on his own. Working alongside Urbancoolab’s STiCH platform, Coleman succeeds in transferring his brand of empathetic reasoning into the world of artificial intelligence. The artist’s expressive language transcends everyday essentials into wearable works of art; look no further than the accompanying hoodie, long-sleeve crewneck and T-shirts as proof. Each image, although small in scale, is characteristic of who Coleman Hell is as an artist, while embodying a true representation of the “real” him.
Coleman Hell’s “Real Me” collection is now available for purchase via Urbancoolx. Meanwhile, in other fashion news, Sandy Gill preaches hard work and hustle in her new “Working Class Heroes” collection.