Off The Record Live: Jelly Roll Talks Weed, Rap, Redemption and New Album ‘Ballads For The Broken’

Born and raised in Antioch, Tennessee, Jelly Roll grew up in the shadow of Nashville’s legendary country music industry… literally.

Videos by American Songwriter

“I was driving down Briley Parkway today and looked up at that Grand Ole Opry sign, thinking about how many times I drove down that road dreaming about being a part of that,” Jelly Roll said on the latest episode of American Songwriter’s Twitch series, Off The Record Live.

Jelly Roll’s dream finally came true on September 17 when the Southern hip-hop star and his devoted cult following took the Ryman by storm with a triumphant sold-out set. Backstage, the Grand Ole Opry invited the 34-year-old rapper to make his Opry debut.

“I ugly cried,” Jelly Roll said. The moment came after a years-long journey from the bottom to the top. First getting into rapping in high school, he spent some time incarcerated before getting out and devoting his life to making heartfelt music. Extremely prolific, he’s built up a name in the time since with his intricate and hard-hitting verses, as well as his exciting collaborations with the likes of Struggle Jennings, Yelawolf, Tech N9ne, and more.

In September, he unveiled his latest studio album: Ballads Of The Broken, which features an unprecedented amount of sung vocals, as opposed to rap verses. “It was like putting my toe in a pool I didn’t know I was allowed in, then everyone said ‘No, come in, it’s cool!’” Jelly Roll said of his singing. “But it’s what my heart wants to do—I’ve always wanted to be singing.”

With powerful tunes like “Son of a Sinner” and “Sober,” it’s clear that when it comes to music, Jelly Roll’s heart is often right—singing with a profound amount of emotion and tact, the songs and their revealing lyrics soar to brilliantly uplifting heights, shining light onto some of life’s darkest circumstances.

Throughout the Off The Record Live episode, Jelly Roll showed off the endearing charisma that’s made him such a hit for his following. Witty, knowledgeable, and with a golden heart, the celebration of life that so often underscores his music translates to the way he carries himself.

Watch the full episode below:

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