XellFromHell’s 2021 project PluggSoul does what it says on the tin. The album’s very first words are ‘Everything is so beautiful’, and it’s hard not to agree with such incredible production uplifting Xell’s smokey crooning. Across all fourteen songs and both discs (the deluxe dropped in early 2022), Xell proves that the soul aspect of his music is more than just genre labelling. There’s real love for the art injected into each track, and although the production never strays from the plugg sound it’s clear from his confident flows and earworm hooks that Xell is more than a passing footnote in the scene’s history.
Ease Da Pain Pt. 2 / ‘Not Feeling Right’ is exemplary of this, Xell’s bellowing reaching levels of palpable intensity in the latter half. The beats have come from a wide variety of sources, and Xell delivers his lyrics over them just as confidently on the sensual ‘Fountain of Dreams’ as on the meditative ‘Heal / Deadly’. There’s plenty of high-octane bangers on the first disc (‘Selena’, ‘Love N Demons’, Victory Lap’), but the real strength of the original PluggSoul tracklist is the moments in which Xell’s vocal tenacity enables him to really get his croon on.
The deluxe edition changes this, as not only is the energy here significantly higher from the get go (‘Promised Land’, despite being almost wordless, is practically transcendental), but the production seems tailor made for Xell’s truly excellent vocal performances. The guests, too, seem to be better selected to fit the vision of the project. ‘I Cannot Lose!’ with latobby brings the strengths out of both, shorter song structure providing advantageous here as both fit career-defining performances into a scarcely two and a half minute track. ‘What About Us?’ recruits Cybernetic Snake for one of his waviest verses to date, this one might also have the best beat on the project.
The focus on the ‘Plugg’ half of the album’s title feels stronger here, and despite songs like ‘Way Away’ and ‘Use Me’ evoking lovesick sentiments akin to the best Pluggnb music there is an undeniable devotion to the roots of the genre in the way that Xell so effortlessly floats over these beats. With a total of 28 songs, PluggSoul is a monolithic effort from an artist that only seems to get better over the course of his career.
Listen to PluggSoul and PluggSoul (Deluxe) below.
Follow Xell on Twitter here.
– Chris (@malenchanted)