A few months ago, in May to be exact, I wrote a "Temperature's Rising" piece about Jelani Lateef. You may be asking yourself, "Why are you writing another article about Jelani?" Well, I'll answer that question by not answering at all and instead saying this. This is my column. I write about whatever the fuck I want to. In college, when you were nursing a hangover and watching reruns of The Tim and Eric Show, I was nursing a hangover while reading hella long Greek tragedies by people like Euripides, Sophocles, and Aristophanes. I wrote long 10+ page essays twice a week about things like Shakespeare's Macbeth or Beowulf. In short, the life of the English/Writing major is far from glamorous, and neither is the life of a professional journalist. But there are some perks. Now I have my own column on AHH, where, like I said so elegantly before, I can say whatever the fuck I want.
As I detailed in my last article, Jelani Lateef's life story is one for the ages, which undoubtedly resonates in his music. I have only an ounce of faith that you will actually read both articles, because unless you decide (or decided) to subject yourself to torture and study English Literature for four years that is too much reading (not to sound condescending, sometimes I wish I too wasn't stricken with the writer's curse). Anyways, I'll copy & paste it here, 99.9% word for word (because it's NFL football Sunday and on this day an American-blooded man is allowed to be lazy).
Born and raised in Chicago, IL, (of course one of hip hop's holy meccas) Jelani Lateef aka J Fury has a career spanning more than a decade. Best known for his thought-provoking lyricism and witty wordplay, Jelani has been a mainstay in the Chicago rap community, despite Chicago being a city chock-full of brilliant artists. Jelani has expanded from just being a rapper to a producer and CEO as well. In 2010, the mother of Jelani's daughter died of cancer, leaving him a single parent. After recovering from this traumatic and life-changing episode, 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.
"Most rappers speak on servin' them rocks
So you don't want to hear about a nigga punchin' the clock"
-Jelani Lateef, "Manhood Talk"
I'm in my mid-20's, still considered a "young" adult by some people, but I increasingly find myself gravitating toward music like this that has a "real" message attached. While this problem has always excited, I feel that a lot of hip hop fans take the rappers themselves too seriously, which leads to a lot of high school kids thinking they need to do everything Young Thug or Rich Homie Quan glorify in their raps. Let's take the latter for instance. I love listening to Quan even though he is not necessarily the most righteous rapper around, but when I take the headphones out or turn my car off, I realize that what I listening to is for entertainment purposes. The odds are stacked way against you if you have the idea that you are going to be able to make it as a rich rapper, even though it's not impossible obviously if you are willing to study the craft. However, when you are working part-time, popping Molly, and selling drugs not for survival purposes but to purchase exclusive Jordan sneakers, you are taking this rap shit dangerously serious, and need to listen to Jay's "Ignorant Shit" until you memorize it. Jelani's "Manhood Talk" is not going to be on the radio, BET, VH1, or MTV (even when/if they decide to play music) but it is the kind of song that carries a poignant message more young men to hear.
Since May, Jelani's Cold Days and Dark Nights album has been a mainstay in my personal playlist. With a certified lunatic (Donald Trump) following absurd statements after the next, and an influx of stories about people in positions of power using their power for selfish/cruel means, the insightful and positive message Jelani offers on Cold Days and Dark Nights has been extremely therapeutic. currently in rotation along with Lupe's Tetsuo & Youth, Kendrick's To Pimp A Butterfly, Wale's The Album About Nothing, Chance & The Social Experiment's Surf, Dr. Dre's Compton: A Soundtrack, and Big Sean's Dark Sky Paradise. I'm usually telling other people to track up-and-coming artists' movements on the interwebs, but ever since May I've been the tracking Jelani's movements (no Craiglist killer/creep). I posted this is in the last article, but you can check out the full album below:
In 2015, there are a multitude of brilliant artists who have yet to really see the light of the mainstream, which completely baffles me. Off the top of my head, Freddie Gibbs, Curren$y, Young Roddy, Big K.R.I.T., Stalley, Ab-Soul, and the list goes on and on. Luckily, we have the internet, so who gives a shit about the radio? I imagine Jelani will be apart of the aforementioned class of emcees, steadily releasing real/dope shit that goes completely unnoticed by people that have Tyga in their top 10, but regardless, if you're feeling "Manhood Talk" and the Cold Days and Dark Nights, make sure to track Jelani's movements on the interwebs (again, no Craiglist killer/creep).