Today’s Song: Jelani Aryeh Offers a Coming-of-Age for All Ages with “I’ve Got Some Living to Do”

Jelani Aryeh © Natasha Tilly
Jelani Aryeh © Natasha Tilly
San Diego singer/songwriter Jelani Aryeh sings about what it means to be out of place in “I’ve Got Some Living to Do,” a full coming-of-age story full of teenage angst, college confusion, and adulthood isolation rolled into one.
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Stream: “I’ve Got Some Living to Do” – Jelani Aryeh




We are born and we are told what to do. It’s frustrating and stifling, but it’s also incredibly freeing. For eighteen years, there is a what, why, where, and when that is out of your hands. You are at the power of a guardian, a system, and a schedule.

Then you are thrown into the deep end. Order is replaced by absolute chaos. If it’s not obvious to everyone else, it’s probably a secret that that latches to the weight on your shoulders and muddies the already treacherous waters of your developing brain.  It’s inevitable, it’s unavoidable, and it’s precisely what Jelani Aryeh is singing about in “I’ve Got Some Living to Do.”

I've Got Some Living To Do - Jelani Aryeh
I’ve Got Some Living To Do – Jelani Aryeh
Busy compensating for the lack
I don’t see myself the way you see me, is that bad?
If hell’s a state of mind, then why is Satan on my back?
I’m sinking through the floor
Solitary ** at his core
Hollow-hearted, shallow breathing, sitting at the shore
Spirit, can you hear me? I don’t think I can endure
Will I grow old and mature?
Tore me apart and punctured
Fucking holes in my heart
I’m sitting out here soulless, that’s all
I thought the world was wonderful, I thought

The 21-year-old singer/songwriter from the San Diego suburbs writes about what it means to be out of place, to lag in the most epic race there is. Injected with the soundscapes of the ‘90s indie scene (see Sonic Youth, Slowdive, and Cocteau Twins), Aryeh’s own rap/R&B influences make this track a fully immersive experience – a reality curated by Aryeh’s unique choices. The track is a full coming-of-age story, but not the glamorous kind. In this story, we skip the awkward phase and the makeover and prom to pummel into the more difficult parts of growing up.

Jelani Aryeh © Lindsay Ellary
Jelani Aryeh © Lindsay Ellary



Aryeh is gentle in his admission, at least, for the first minute or so. The track begins in a daze, whirring up and down in an amalgamation of sound. The harmonies peek in and out, decorating Aryeh’s voice with the faintest of whispers. He sings, “Busy compensating for the lack. I don’t see myself the way you see me, is that bad?” You can hear the collapse in his voice, leaden with exhaustion. The chorus comes crashing down. The chorus comes crashing down. High-impact and hot-blooded, it calls for a complete surrender. It’s intense, but short lived. We return to the sweet desperation of the first verse. Aryeh looks up at the sky and asks, “How many defeats can I afford?” The trajectory for those around him is clear. He illustrates, “Everyone my age is off at college in a class. I’ll go unacknowledged watching life behind a glass.” Out of place with nowhere to go, Aryeh goes unnoticed.

How many defeats can I afford?
Standing on my feet is not so easy anymore
Yes, I feel more free and have the courage to explore
But currently, I’m beat and bored
Where the hell is everybody at?
Everyone my age is off at college in a class
I’ll go unacknowledged, watching life behind the glass
I’m never really sure anymore
Too busy compensating for the lack (yeah)
I don’t see myself the way you see me, is that bad?
If hell’s a state of mind, then why is Satan on my back?
I’m sinking through the floor

 It’s not clear who Aryeh is talking to. In and out of conversation, he is at odds with himself, those who see him, and the bigger force that’s adding insult to injury. The prechorus reads as a poem, “Solitary ni**a at his core. Hollow hearted, shallow breathing sitting at the shore Spirit can you hear me? I don’t think I can endure.” The sounds creep up the walls with a synth that practically bleeds in your ear. Aryeh has managed to create a track that comforts you and scares you at the same time. So raw, it’s disarming.

There is an order to life. You know it, I know it, but it seems that Jelani Aryeh understands it better than we do. He asks one final question: “Will I grow old and mature?” The road is paved with good intentions, but the journey is long and demanding. “I’ve Got Some Living To Do” is teenage angst, college confusion, and adulthood isolation rolled into one. At least we have it to accompany us on the trip.

Solitary ** at his core
Hollow-hearted, shallow breathing, sitting at the shore
Spirit, can you hear me? I don’t think I can endure
Will I grow old and mature?
Shallow breathing, sitting at the shore
Spirit, can you hear me? I don’t think I can endure
(Ooh) Will I grow old and mature?
And mature, mature

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Stream: “I’ve Got Some Living to Do” – Jelani Aryeh



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I've Got Some Living To Do - Jelani Aryeh

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