Album Review: My Soul to Keep 2 by Jelani Lateef
Chicago rapper Jelani Lateef proves that his career, in his own words, “is more than talk and false practice.” My Soul to Keep 2, his sophomore effort, is all about hardship and the rise and fall of following your potential. You won’t find songs about how many gold chalices he’s got or who he’s going to fuck-up on Thursday. Instead, we have songs which chronicle his life on the streets of the windy city. Like Springsteen with New Jersey, Lateef is a small guy with talent that has rocked his home to the core.
All this levity doesn’t mean he’s any kind of sissy though. Take album highlight In the Game Now, with its thick beats and his personal promise that “you’re fuckin with a dangerous dude.” This isn’t to be taken as a statement that he doesn’t have his priorities down though: Forward Advance, finds him in a more reflective mood with rhymes like “Refuse to be a deadbeat dad/that ain’t the plan/I’ma make her life better/so I’ma take a stand…”, making us aware that he’s doing this for a far more important reason than money of fame, but for his daughter.
What shines through on My Soul to Keep 2, and especially on the title track, is the pure intentions. Lateef brings to the game. As stated in this awesome call to arms he doesn’t talk about the money, he talks about the soul. His message and themes share a positivity that elevate this album to more than just a hard luck tale, or a bad life gone good. There is a genuine feeling of joy to this melodic escape from the windy city.
We can only hope that Lateef continues carving the story of his life into these engaging songs. With success comes a shift in perspective. Just look at Kanye, and especially The Game. Both rappers early efforts were as humble as the genre gets with songs about The Game working alongside his heroes being matched by anything on Lateef’s latest cut. My Soul t Keep 2 has the kind of purity that isn’t really seen any more in the hip-hop world, so long may it continue. Seriously, buy this album!
Quick Fire Review
Out of Ten: 9
Best Tracks: 307, Forward Advance, In the Game Now
Listen to if: You want bravaura lyrical beats and the substance to back them up.
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By Kevin Boyle