2014 couldn’t have been a better year for Compton bred singer/songwriter Eric Bellinger. The Grammy Award-winner had already penned hits for Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, Trey Songz, Fantasia and Usher. It didn’t hurt that his grandfather is Bobby Day, the Rock n Roll icon, responsible for the classic “Rockin Robin,” again popularized by the Jackson 5. As a kid in elementary school, Bellinger even hustled peers into giving him a dollar to sing on their voicemail messages before getting introduced to Erika Nuri of The Writing Camp; yes, the same team of collaborators responsible for Rihanna’s “SOS” and Beyoncé’s “Halo.”
Speaking to Soultrain.com around that time, Nuri who took him under her wing changed his perspective on songwriting. “It was crazy because we started off writing songs and teaching me all the different technical points for songwriting in regards to structure and format of music—things like chorus, hook, bridge, second hook, etc.,” said Bellinger. “I kind of picked up on it quick and after a while when I got comfortable I went and did my own thing.”
That year granted him his first legitimate hit in “I Don’t Want Her” featuring fellow Hub City brethren Problem. Produced by League of Starz, the track utilizing a sample of Kris-Kross’ “Jump” earned millions of Soundcloud streams and YouTube views. After a long mixtape grind through his Born II Sing series, the transition from behind the scenes to potential solo career sounded viable. “I Don’t Want Her” was featured on his debut double album, Rebirth, which served as a proper solo introduction to Bellinger’s very specific brand of R&B.
Following up in 2015 with both Cuffing Season, which included the 2 Chainz assisted “Focused On You” and Cuffing Season 2’s mega hit “Velvet” also featuring Titty Boi alongside Fetty Wap, the industry started to take notice. That doesn’t even count Bellinger’s other EPs, Birthday Gifts, In The Meantime Part 2 and Dabbin On Christmas. Featured spots on the Game’s Documentary 2 and even All Love Lost by Joe Budden meant real acceptance by peers.
Between his project output, guest appearances and over 80 songwriting placements, it looks like Bellinger made the right decision in nixing a full ride football scholarship to the University of Southern California. In high school, Bellinger was good enough to earn a special teams “Player of the Year” award, and make the California Interscholastic Federation championships and state All Star games. Who would have thought a sports injury would have led to being a go-to guy for R&B hits?
Bellinger also got a taste of international tour life with performances in Australia, Berlin, Copenhagen and Paris. When the summer of 2016 wraps up, he would have performed at this year’s Urban Network Digital Conference, and the Essence Music Festival alongside Mariah Carey and Kendrick Lamar.
Continuing his momentum, Bellinger dropped the nine track EP, Eventually last Valentine’s Day for free. In late May, he re-released the project with three new tracks including “Spare Time,” “Volunteer” and “You Look Amazing.” Like previous releases, Eventually is Bellinger blurring the line between traditional and progressive strands of R&B. According to him, “Spare Time” is the perfect example of his ability to do both. “It’s fun for the summer, chill enough to vibe out with your girl, but still has a strong 808 if you hit the club,” he says.
Everything should set the stage for his upcoming Eric Bellinger album set to drop by the end of the year.
By Tidus McCloud