Pairing a laid-back flow and a relentless drive, Sebastopol native J.Lately has crafted relatable and engaging hip-hop since his days at Analy High School.
Now 10 years into his music career, Lately just dropped his latest album, Winnebago, and he’s inviting North Bay audiences to join him on his journey.
“For me, it’s always felt like writing a song is not the entire process; sharing it is also an important part of the process as well,” Lately says.
From his days burning CDs for friends at school to his years on the road touring across the country, Lately steadily increased his musical output as he matured as an artist, and Winnebago follows on the heels of his Campfire EP, released in August of 2020, and his last full-length, Tuesday, released in 2019.
“It’s taken me a lot of time to develop that confidence in myself as an artist; find my voice and find my path,” Lately says. “That’s something I’ve been able to tap into more in recent years. I am feeling more comfortable in my shoes now.”
That confidence and comfort shows through on Winnebago’s 10 tracks, which lyrically find J.Lately on the move and navigating life’s detours amidst the album’s memorable hooks and smooth beats.
The title track was the first song Lately wrote for the new album, and he says it became the cornerstone for the whole record.
“It happens to me a lot with albums, the first song that I write is my thesis statement about just where I am in life at the time,” Lately says. “That’s what happened with Winnebago.”
Shortly after writing Winnebago, the Covid-19 pandemic sequestered everyone in their homes, amplifying Lately’s physical need for movement, growth and freedom.
“The idea of a Winnebago is such a perfect representation of that idea; you’re in your home, but you’re moving in your home,” Lately says. “That’s what I’m trying to find; being comfortable with myself in my home, but that home doesn’t need to be a stagnant place.”
During the past year, Lately collaborated remotely with his two producers, Space Cadet and Trey C—who Lately knows from Analy High School—as well as the three guest artists, Las Vegas’s Dizzy Wright, L.A.’s Gavlyn and Vancouver, British Columbia’s Junk, who all appear on the album.
“It’s been a blessing to have these producers that I can work so closely with,” Lately says. “I think that’s helped with the sound on Winnebago and finding something that’s uniquely myself.”
With the pandemic’s end almost in sight, Lately looks forward to returning to the touring life so he can keep sharing his music with the world. For now, Winnebago is a great way for listeners to musically hit the road and expand their horizons.