Chicago-based rapper Jelani Lateef boasts an intense delivery that’s similar to the tone and technical astuteness of Big Boi. The narratives of his songs often center around the concept of responsibility, which aligns with the mission statement of Jelani’s company, Manhood Ent.: “Striving to be a popular source of music and entertainment, while portraying men in a positive, powerful and inspirational light.” He formed the musical endeavor after losing his daughter’s mother to cancer in 2010, prompting him to assume a more involved role while grasping responsibility in a new light. Since then, he has released two projects – My Soul to Keep and My Soul to Keep 2 – in addition to the newly released full-length Cold Days and Dark Nights.
After the intro, the album begins with the very successful “Action”, which initially rides on psych-rock organs before Jelani’s forceful vocals slide across the backdrop of a slick electric guitar reminiscent of ’80s rock. The guitar’s tone is anthemic and semi-cheesy, a fun complement to Jelani’s deeply melodic tone and hopeful lyricism. Just as captivating is “Book of Life”, a masterful effort featuring an ominous backing choir, guitar swipes, and a stirring string sample. These are two fine efforts off a release that proves to be Jelani Lateef’s best yet. Stream it in full below: