If you’ve strolled the sidewalks of Manhattan lately, you may already have encountered the work of De La Vega: simple, seemingly childish, but always iconic chalk drawings with captions that range from the profound (“Become your dream”) to, uh, “Gay Fish.” Inspired by the street artist’s contributions to NYC’s visual environment, Booth newcomer Jelani uses him as a springboard for lyrical reflection on his latest single. Beatsmith Freddie Joachim sets a laid-back, contemplative mood with tunefully understated jazz samples as the Harlem native lets his mind wander. Though he indulges in a few gripes about his penniless post-collegiate lifestyle (and a couple swipes at today’s materialistic, disengaged youth culture), he doesn’t neglect to self-administer a reality check, cannily observing, “A bad day to us is a broken phone, a stained shirt, and the boss won’t leave us alone / but overseas, Egypt for example, a family and everything they own is dismantled.” While De La Vega isn’t set for inclusion on any forthcoming project, those who appreciate Jelanie’s positivity and insight can keep it locked to the Booth for all the latest.
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