Thursday, September 4, 2014

Indie Music: Jelani Lateef "My Soul to Keep 2"

by Germar Derron

When I’m in the studio--producing, tracking, mixing, designing or listening to new tracks--all I think of is polish. I need sound to be polished. Polished could mean shined, smoothed, rounded, refined, sophisticated, skilled, elegant, or completed.  Often, when I think of polished, it’s a feeling that a person has “been there, done that.” Other times it’s that “sheen” you get in mastering when bumping and compressing the higher frequencies. In a word, this album is “polished.”

I’d never heard of Jelani Lateef before, but he sounds like someone who’s been there, done that. He spits. There’s no awkwardness, or hesitation in his flow throughout the “LP.”  That’s rare. Even when I listen to Eminem’s first major label release, I clearly hear him behind the beat and struggling to catch up. On My Soul to Keep 2, I hear confidence and an easy delivery.

My guess is that Lateef is a fan of 90s rap. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Maybe it’s a bit of both. I can’t quite call it. But, I think all “ol’ skool” heads would be a fan. (weird that the 90s is old school now right?) Of course part of me (and you), feels the nostalgia in the record.  We’re instantly transported back to a better time – better because our past always seems to be the good old days. On the flip side, the sound could be called dated and out-of-touch.  It’s nothing like Drake, Wayne, or Kendrick. But I feel that hardcore fans would consider this true hip-hop.

The production is polished, regardless of the producer. I won’t say that I like every track, but I respect every track. We don’t use the term “art” enough when describing or discussing urban music; that term is appropriate here.

I will definitely add a couple of tracks to my library: “Forward Advance” (the video is hot) and “Had It All.” I struggle to rate the album because I feel one way about the obvious talent and another way about how it fits in my rotation. I’ll give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
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