Meet Jay Bel and Jimi Tents of Brooklyn’s SLEEPERCAMP Collective

Brooklyn: Madison Street is covered with pothole-sized puddles holding a deadly mix of melted snow and rain water. As I battle to keep pace with Jay Bel and Jimi Tents, two rappers from the Brooklyn's SLEEPERCAMP, we watch the 49 bus bolt past, just a block away.

To be clear, the two aren't actually a duo, although their 2014 joint project Sex You Can Dance Too [sic] made some think otherwise. Yet the young rappers Bel and Tents are as close as brothers.

They are also managed by Moosa Tiffith of TDE, beside head-manager Haarlem, formerly of SONY. Major labels have been in a frenzy over the SLEEPERCAMP group, but their development home, VATE Media, assures me that the group will continue to grow its sound and serve its fan base first.

Cold and defeated, we returned to the brownstone where an hour before I’d been listening to a bundle of unreleased, untitled files, including Jay Bel’s latest single “Trans Euro,” a track that can almost make you think about texting your ex.

Almost.

“We recorded some stuff in here.” Jimi Tents states, leading me downstairs to a green-lit 4x4 makeshift booth in the corner of the low-ceilinged basement.

“I recorded 'Elmer Fudd’ at a friend’s house,” he says, referring to his debut single, where the towering 19-year-old speaks on police brutality and his own struggles finding himself.

“Rap wasn't my plan B. Two years ago I was on my way to school. I was super depressed that day. I just didn't go. My school was like on some black excellence [tip]. Kids going to Harvard. And I’m just here like, ‘I wanna be a rapper.’ I wore flannels every day. I was so depressed I didn't want to change my outfit. I went to Jay’s crib [that day]. He had just got suspended from college.”

Jay sits next to me on a black couch, with a worn baseball hat and a colorblock sweatshirt. I asked him about “Kate,” his most popular song to date.

“SED produced it for me two years ago…. back when I didn't have much to rap about. I used to rap about, ‘Oh I’ll take your girl,’ you know? It was a beat that was song-worthy [but] I didn't have anything to say.

Then when I came back from school I said, ‘Oh I can use this now.’ It was called ‘Kate’ when I got it, and I left it as is.”

Bel suddenly jumps up to prevent his camp member Tents from playing some of his “throw-away” tracks. One in particular is called “History,” a deeply emotional song that may have been a precursor to the camp-duo’s latest creation, “Trans Euro.”

Is “Trans Euro” about an ex-girlfriend, Jay?

“The hook is. Well, yeah… It is, but some of the music you’re listening to we might not do anything with. We made “Trans Euro” at Gamal’s house. We finished it that day. We made the beat and I wrote it. I had it, and Jimi wasn't on it for a week. I came to Black Wax Studios and he was playing it and he got on it. “

He assures me that nothing on his project sounds like the single, and I am both deeply disappointed and insanely curious.

On Tuesday, Jay Bel debuted a new track featuring Jimi Tents called “Trans Euro” on Complex. His debut LP, Bohemia, will be coming out this May. He says, “You can expect my project to drop, then Jimi’s and then the group project.”

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