16 Years Old And Already Cooler Than You: Jelani Imani
We got to know a 16 year old rapper who’s already ahead of his time.
At 16, we remember being mindless about the world around us that stretched any further than our high school walls but that’s just not how Jenali Imani sees the world at this age. He’s creating music that questions everything and challenges the status quo.
TBH We’re really fucking stoked to see where he goes from here.
What got you started in making music?
When I moved to Atlanta and first began living with my dad, he was already rapping and making music. I knew all the lyrics to his songs and like I would rap them all the time so, I guess he thought it would be a good idea to take me to the studio. He wrote me some rhymes, I had to be like 5-6. And laid down my first verse on a song.
“Innovative music is the first step to a refined world but, innovative music is considered innovative by the heart of the artist and not by critics. NEVERMIND, naysayers and non-believers, trust in your heart. Be Mindless.”
Where do you find your musical influences?
I listen to music all day long and I listen to everything for the most part so my musical influences are widespread but, my earliest influences would be like Dungeon Family, OutKast, Killa Mike & Three 6 Mafia. living between Atlanta and Memphis those were the rappers my parents listened to so I heard a ton of them. Outside of Rap, Nirvana is one of my biggest influences if not the biggest. I was born in Seattle so my mom and pops made sure I knew them. They’re whole style renovated music and fashion, and Cobain’s look on life is inspiring. Another is Ozzy Osbourne, as a kid I remember my mom watching his TV and having me walking around the house at like 3-4 singing “Iron Man”. He’s true rockstar. Prince & Micheal Jackson influenced me to be free with my style and be free with my stage performance. My mom
used to tell me they were my dads. My brother Izzy Jone$ definitely inspired and influenced me to think outside the box throughly incorporate pieces of myself into everything to keep it 888% original. My contemporary influences are like Tyler, the Creator, A$AP Rocky, Kanye West, Drake, Frank Ocean, Travis $cott, & Future. My dream is to work with atleast two of those artists in the next 3-4 years.
Tell us more about your latest release and what you want people to get out of it.
I released OKKK (Maxi-Single) with the LIFTED (B-side) on May 28th. OKKK was one of those beats was ill as hell but was just made to be made. Until one night, I just had a awakening and had to pipe up with it. from that record, I wanted to feel that Generation XY and 888 were here to stay around and enjoy like but, it’s also deeper than. it’s centered around like people who don’t really have a foundation of like love and trust and don’t really recognize that until they’re all alone.
Lifted is about belief in ones self because the only person who can stop your success is you.
Then I released the STAYDOWN (maxi-Single) with the BIKEPEDALS (Side B) on July 8th. STAYDOWN is a story about a relationship where the guy is a traveling artist and he really wants his girl to trust in him because in the end he’s doing what he’s doing for himself and her. BIKEPEDALS was a beat $ama and Isaiah T. Anderson sent because they said it was “perfect” for me. It’s a very fun song essentially it’s about recycle bin rappers and how originality trumps everything else. but how a lot of listeners don’t give a damn about what you really have to say anymore & how I just really don’t like niggas who can’t be original. So ALL IN ALL JUST BE YOURSELF!
How do you want your fans to feel after listening to your music?
I want my fans to be able to either feel me, understand me, have fun with me or learn something from me. I want them to feel like they heard that specific song or album for a purpose. I want them to feel what i put into it and feel good.
What would you consider your favorite song you’ve ever written? Why?
Damn. Um… Honestly I don’t know. Because it’s so many songs I have that I love dearly. I’ll say the song I felt the most when recording and writing was “DOMESTIC TERRORISM” because it’s so close to home and so relevant in society. Even now, Police still locking up and killing niggas everyday like they don’t have family, hearts and minds. It saddens me so it’s definitely one of my personal songs.
What is your creative process?
Honestly. It is literally different everytime. My brain is very spontaneous, I literally have spur of the moment ideas sometimes. Othertimes, it a thought than could span a week. Also, it depends on my state of mind, mood or being. Usually, I always start with production tho. I think of sonics before topics it’s weird.
What are the main topics you like talking about in your music?
I am a very strange thinking and my writing reflects that. I have songs that are specifically focused on one topic and I also have songs that are spontaneous and abstract. I tend to speak on topics with substance that are tangible and real. i stay positive because positivity is important in art. i like to tell stories and paint pictures. i like to flex sometimes, and in some songs i just have fun. i try to keep a balance that makes sense to me because no one else would get it.