Jelani Blackman Offers A Few Words To His Younger Self
Jelani Blackman never strays from his roots. Sure, as a songwriter he's one of the most dexterous around - capable of moving from ice cold bars to something a little warmer, even soulful.
Set to appear on super-producer Fraser T Smith's album '12 Questions' later this year, he's also focussing on his own work.
New single 'Tricky' is out now, and it's a song about the huge contrasts you can find in London - a city when rich and poor live in the same postcode, even the same street.
A reflective piece, 'Tricky' can be angry, but it can also be sanguine - Jelani is able to see the beauty in his West London upbringing, while also pointing out aspects that remain broken.
Here, Jelani Blackman offers a few words to his younger self - it's a reflection on self-growth, but also on self-belief...
- - -
- - -
Yo young one...
Try and think less, it makes things so much harder. It’s in your bones so you’ll have to really work out how to switch off. Take time to soak in the things happening around you, you’ll appreciate the memories when you’re older. Make more people happy, especially your mum, it will make you feel better about the world.
Learn more about your culture and heritage, be wary of people who don’t like it when you speak about race.
In life you can’t avoid certain situations but don’t let anyone push you to do or say anything that feels instinctively wrong. If it feels wrong it probably is.
The best thing I can tell you about making music is don’t over complicate it. The industry can be hard, there’s no right way to do it but put more music out and let people see who you are.
Everyone will have an opinion, make sure to have a strong team of people around you, trust your own feelings and direction and be strong in making that happen. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable in your songs, it's uncomfortable but that's when you start making your best music. Never let people tell you things can’t be done, perseverance is key.
It’s hard, but you don’t need to be so angry about the things that have happened in your life, it takes ages to work out you’re only damaging yourself. The first step towards doing this is to accept your anger, I know you always rationalize it and you’re also a naturally happy person so it makes dealing with being angry difficult.
The hardest thing about dealing with life is that most people aren’t born bad, they’re just a product of circumstances and environment, and you sometimes have to lead life with an element of caution.
Even with some things that have happened you’re lucky, so be happy about the life you’ve been able to live and the things you’ve done. Your happiness leads you into good situations but it’s always tainted with cynicism and thoughts of what will happen in the future. Let that go, you’ll enjoy things more.
The future is great, you have a lot of sick times to come, go with them. Most importantly don’t change anything major, your life is great, you’re happy now and all the decisions you make lead you to end up here.
- - -
'Tricky' is out now.
Join us on the ad-free creative social network Vero, as we get under the skin of global cultural happenings. Follow Clash Magazine as we skip merrily between clubs, concerts, interviews and photo shoots. Get backstage sneak peeks, exclusive content and access to Clash Live events and a true view into our world as the fun and games unfold.