Hailing from one of rap’s biggest epicenters in Chicago comes Jelani Lateef, aka J Fury, an artist that is grinding to make a name for himself in the industry. The MC turned producer and CEO, Lateef has surpassed solely rapping to starting his own entertainment company, Manhood Entertainment. His company aims to “be a popular source of music and entertainment, while portraying men in a positive, powerful and inspirational light.” So far under his label, Lateef has delivered two projects, My Soul to Keep, and My Soul to Keep 2. Now he brings to us Cold Days and Dark Nights, a deep and personal tape that delves into various real life topics, such as losing women and his own personal struggles as a single father (the mother unfortunately passed away in 2010 after a battle with cancer, R.I.P.).
The 16 track project begins with a motivational clip taken from Gabriele Muccino’s The Pursuit of Happiness. Right from the get-go, J Fury makes it clear that he won’t let anyone tell him what he can and can’t do. He further affirms this sentiment in the rock-heavy “Action,” in which Lateef raps about how he remains motivated to make something of his career. “Book of Life” demonstrates his storytelling abilities as he recounts various events that have plagued his early career. The production on this track in particular is interesting as well, as he loops sampled lyrics to create somewhat of a hook, a technique that he frequents throughout the project.
“Look What You Done,” is the standout for the entirety of the tape. Sung by Lateef himself, the hook is killer and flows perfectly with the soulful production that is typical of Chi-Town hip-hop. This tale of womanizing transitions into another somber track, “How It Feels,” which deals with the struggles of single parenthood and the sacrifices that he overcomes while raising a child. The title track “Cold Days and Dark Nights” continues the dark trend with abrasive flow and hard lyrics:
In the never ending story greed is the narrator // so I’m just trying to get a share of the paper // hell’s angels awaitin’, dedicated to their cause // if we don’t find a way to resolve then Satan can take us all
Cold Days and Dark Nights then takes an abrupt turn production-wise to adopt a New York style for the lighter and more braggadocio track, “The Lyrical.” The vinyl scratches indicate the undeniable influence of the East Coast. Despite this, the latter half of this tape is much the same as the first with Lateef rapping about being motivated to make something of himself and provide for his friends and family. The production remains basic, with more soul and sometimes even rock influences. The lyrics don’t change much, and nothing stands out above the rest.
Overall, Jelani Lateef shows some flashes of definite promise on CDDN, but it is hindered by the dry consistency of the project as a whole. Lateef does not switch up his flow or voice, which keeps a majority of the tracks bland and unoriginal. The hook on “Look What You Done” displays the one time J Fury attempts to differentiate his voice and style. Surprisingly enough, it sounds very similar to Common’s vocals with the occasional Jay Rock intensity. This aspect of his rapping impresses and makes his music a pleasant listen until it then becomes repetitive once again.
Jelani Lateef may become a more common name in the future, but for now it will remain amongst the many other rappers who are constantly fighting for some recognition and fame. A little practice and some experimentation could make a big difference, and hopefully that will come in due time.
For now I’d like to wish Lateef the best of luck with his hustle, and make sure to check out Cold Days and Dark Nights here and support Manhood Entertainment. Let us know what you think of this up and coming hip hop artist and entrepreneur in the comments below.