Temperature's Rising: Jelani Lateef

As one ages, a lot of things happen. First off, a night of drinking cannot be easily washed away with a Vitamin Water Revive and a few tabs of Ibuprofen like in the old days. Don't get me started on the early morning pains in places that I don't even know existed before. Also, as you can tell, one is more prone more to rambling. With years fleeting, it's important to speak as much as possible, because once I reach my casket, I will be permanently silenced. But all rambling aside, as a music critic, I find my tastes rapidly expanding as the years go by. Don't get me wrong, I love going to the club and hearing the latest Future/Young Thug/Rich Homie Quan jam and temporarily forgetting my responsibilities, regardless of the heavy price I have to pay in the morning. But with all that said, these days I like a little more substance in my music. Enter Jelani Lateef.

Let's start with the mathematics of what got Jelani into the rap game in the first place. Born and raised in Chicago, IL, Jelani Lateef aka J Fury has a music career spanning more than 12 years. Best known for his thought provoking lyrics and witty wordplay, Jelani has been a mainstay in the Chicago rap community. He has now expanded from simply being a rapper to a producer and CEO.

In 2010, the mother of his daughter died of cancer, leaving him a single parent. After recovering from this traumatic and life changing experience, Jelani started Manhood Ent. The idea was to create a brand that represented men stepping to the plate and handling responsibility. The mission statement for the company is: “Striving to be a popular source of music and entertainment, while portraying men in a positive, powerful and inspirational light”. In addition to making music, Jelani has committed endless hours to outreach and mentoring young men and women, in hopes of inspiring them to lead a positive and productive lifestyle.

Since forming the company, Jelani has released two projects, “My Soul to Keep” and “My Soul to Keep 2”. Both projects were well received, garnishing positive reviews. With a new album on the way, Jelani Lateef is continuing his momentum and adding to his rapidly growing fan base.

Whereas other rappers stare out of their window and scribble their life, Jelani clearly has lived though a lot and has no shame in sharing his innermost thoughts with the public. Take "Book Of Life" for instance, from Cold Days and Dark Nights, Jelani recounts the myriad reasons why he is propelled to make music in the first place. The thing I found most compelling about Jelani is how he fuses braggadocio with unabashed real-talk. On tracks like "Can't Stop Now," he appears at once confident but regretful of the mistakes that he has made on the road to success.

It's tempting to lose ourselves in illusory worlds about truffle butter and what not, but it's difficult to pay attention to an artist like Jelani who's everyman delivery makes it easy to relate to one's own personal experiences. We need more artists like Jelani, so make sure to track his movements on the interwebs. Also, you can stream his entire Cold Days and Dark Nights LP below.

Also, check out Jelani's new video for "The Lyrical" featuring DJ HasH (Directed by David Johnson for SEI): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rXKcc-C-c8A