Itz Jaleel Explains How Rap Went From Hobby To Career & Reveals Daily Motivation

Nashville rapper Itz Jaleel presents the 3amedia-directed music video for “Another 24” his latest single produced by 200K. The clip comes on the heels of visuals for “Overtime” (watch the video) and “On Me” (watch the video). Born Jaleel Cunningham, Itz Jaleel began his journey to rap at an early age.

Raised on old school RNB and hip hop, he developed an interest in poetry, “that’s where I started developing my pen game without even knowing”, says Jaleel. What once was a hobby, has now become a career. It was the death of a close relative that propelled Jaleel into pursuing rapping as a career.

In 2020, Jaleel released his first album YOU=ME (listen to the album). But it wasn’t until his second album titled S.O.N. that the industry started to take notice. Featuring fellow Nashville rapper J, the S.O.N. album (listen to the album) helped the artist gain notoriety thus, pushing him to release his first single track for 2022 “Bossin’ Up” (watch the video).

Jaleel says the inspiration for his new track from from “my daily motivation to keep chasing my dreams. As an independent artist the journey to success can be really doubtful at times, but I remember to keep faith and go hard as I can.”

You mentioned that your interest in poetry played a role in developing your pen game for rap. Can you share more about how your early exposure to poetry influenced your artistic journey and style?

I was introduced to poetry at a young age from middle school english and I was always interested to read a good poem. Poetry taught me how to write with substance and to think how I wanted my words to rhyme. Then the first time I seen a poet performing live I was amazed from the performance and how everyone was focused on every word of the poem. I grew up listening to Hip Hop but I wrote a poem before my first song. I feel like poetry was the beginning of my journey creating music.

Your transition from rap being a hobby to a full-fledged career is inspiring. Could you tell us more about the pivotal moment or experience that made you decide to pursue rapping as your profession?

The moment I decided to pursue rap as a profession was while I was in college. Music started to grow more than a hobby for me after I released a few songs on soundcloud and graduated high school. By the time I graduated college in 2021 I released my first album “You=Me.” Since then I’ve been making music and always working.

Your second album, ‘S.O.N.’ seemed to be a turning point in your career. How did this project impact your recognition in the music industry, and what lessons did you learn from its creation?

‘S.O.N.’ is a collaborative project I did with artist “333maxpain.” I gained a lot of traction with this project with all the love the project received around the city. I started doing a lot more shows and being more active in the music industry with networking. Main lesson I learned was to keep making good music that resonates with me and something the audience can feel.

You’ve recently released ‘Another 24’ and it’s clear that gratitude plays a significant role in your music. Can you elaborate on the sources of your daily motivation and how it fuels your creative process as an independent artist?

My daily motivation comes from my family, God, and my love for hip hop culture. My motivation is what keeps me humble and grinding as an independent artist. I have to fund myself as an independent which takes a lot of work and I like to reflect that within the art.

Your journey as an independent artist can be challenging. What advice would you give to emerging artists who are also pursuing their dreams in the music industry, especially during moments of doubt and uncertainty? 

My advice would be to trust your instincts and express what’s true to you. Chase your dreams and turn them into reality, because no one can see your vision but you.

Yoel Molina Law

Leave a Comment