Artist Spotlight: Jelani Blackman

West London lyricist Jelani Blackman is making waves with his latest release, “Rise.” This captivating track features a remarkable collaboration with Irish artist Biig Piig, adding a unique, soulful dimension to the song. Building on the success of his previous hit, “Izit,” featuring acclaimed artist Kojey Radical, Jelani is a compelling and influential force in London’s vibrant music scene, showcasing his unmatched talent and lyrical prowess. With each release, Jelani Blackman leaves an indelible mark, captivating listeners with his distinct style and undeniable skill. 

“I think people have come to expect like, and I hate this as an expression, but they have come to expect the unexpected. I kind of just go with where my mood is at the time musically.”

Rise is a deeply emotional love song. What was the inspiration behind it ?

I guess it’s the feeling of being in love with someone in the real world, if that makes sense. When you are still living your life, you feel a sense of euphoria.

It’s like a honeymoon phase but it’s not just a phase.

Hm! Yeah you feel like it could go on forever.

Was the theme difficult for you to explore, or would you say that it was a fresh experience you enjoyed writing about?

I would say that I’ve had love in my life in a lot of different ways. I’ve been in love and it comes in different forms, and the feeling of it is the same. There’s a feeling that doesn’t come around that often, and sometimes it’s almost more imaginary than realistic. It’s your perfect idea of love. I think that’s it and I think this is what this song represents to me. It’s like my perfect idea of love.

You have made it seem so real, that I was convinced you had that experience and you decided to write about it.  

I’m having that experience right now, yeah.

The link up with Biig Piig. What’s the story there, how did that happen?

So I actually met her on a stage that we were both playing last year, in the summer. It was really nice and we got on well. We were just chilling and we played a couple of things together, but this one it had already existed. She said she liked it, so we all worked on it.

It’s a really good blend of styles. Will you be releasing any of the other stuff that you’ve been working on?

Maybe at some point.

Playing the saxophone builds your breath control among other things. Do you use your saxophone to hone your singing ability?

Hmm, both to be honest. I do find that when I play, my voice sounds a lot better after. So yeah, it does, but that hasn’t been the main goal. 

I feel as time has gone on, my relationship has got better with it. I go in and out of phases at the moment. I’ve got a bit of time because I’ve just finished my album, so I’ve got some space to basically practice what I want the live set to be. So yeah, so I’m back at it, and it feels good.

So I saw the video that you posted on socials …

That was literally me picking it up for the first time in a couple of months. I haven’t played it since I played at Hootananny in December or November. I’m going to play it again after I come off this call. 

I don’t know if this is the case for you, but when it comes to musical instruments or anything that people really enjoy doing, they sometimes stop using it for a couple of months. And then, when they start using it again, they say, ‘I really enjoy this feeling.’ Is this something you can relate to?”

I was just gonna say that what you have, it’s like a bond. It’s a really difficult thing to describe, but it’s very personal. 

What is a common misconception people have about you and your music?

Oh I don’t know, you have to ask them. *laughs*

That’s a good answer! You have a very unique voice. You hop onto tracks like this where it’s super lovey-dovey, and it’s very different from the previous single that you released. Do you ever feel that people expect something from you where you’re like, “I don’t fit into that box”?

I think people have come to expect like, and I hate this as an expression, but they have come to expect the unexpected. I kind of just go with where my mood is at the time musically. I think for better or worse, it’s given me flexibility, and sometimes it’s wrong for people, so they don’t know what’s coming. Sometimes it doesn’t land in a way that I would want them to, because people are expecting something else, but I can only do me, do you know what I mean?

I think it would be so easy for me to like, do the same thing over and over again. That’s not that hard and that’s just not really who I am. 

You have an extremely busy year coming up for you, with festivals and new releases. What do you do to reset and recharge yourself?

You know what? That’s a really good question, because I’ve just tried to do that, and I was really bad at it. I used to be really good at doing nothing, I was like 10/10. I was sick at it but now I can’t do it anymore. 

I’m right in between. So, there was like a week where I literally didn’t have to do anything really, and I just didn’t know what to do with myself. I just found myself overthinking. So to answer your question, I’m not sure yet, but I’m working on it.

Check out “Rise” below:

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