Chicago hip-hop artist Jelani Lateef ain’t playin’ y’all. Like many young artists, Jelani is driven and wants you to know it. But there’s no bravado about or misplaced anger. His career lately has been influenced by events in his personal life. In 2012, his baby mama passed, leaving Lateef a single parent. Already a successful regional artist, he established an entertainment company that focuses on men and women in difficult circumstances overcoming life’s obstacles. Through the company he helps and mentors people in difficult situations like the one he found himself in.
On his new album, Cold Days and Nights, Lateef starts with a track called “Action,” which nicely sets the table for his inspirational and motivational messages. “Things are twisted/So I’ve been enlisted/To put things back together,” he raps, referring to his new mission.
Sonically it’s not wall-to-wall beats, but cleverly sampled bits of rock and pop music that form the framework for Lateef’s songs. A part from motivating others, he also reflects on social issues. “It’s hard not to sing the blues/ When I watch the evening news/dead bodies are falling/ and the shots seem to be the tune,” he raps on the title track, He brings it back to personal level: “thinking ‘bout my lady and my baby/times are getting cray/I’m praying they pay me before they slay me/I’m hustling like a runaway slave.” He does this all without making it sound like hyperbole. It’s just the way things are where he lives. The chorus is simple yet has staying power.
Lateef’s music is quite accessible likely due to his use of other popular music styles as his backdrop. An impressive young man both in and out of the studio.
8 Stars Out of 10
PF Wilson has been writing about music, TV, radio, and movies for over 20 years. He has also written about sports, business, and politics with his work appearing in Cincinnati CityBeat, The Houston Press, Cleveland Scene, Cincinnati Magazine, Cincy Magazine, Atomic Ranch, and many more. Check out his podcast PF’s Tape Recorder available from Podbean or in iTunes.