Grateful and Moving Forward: A Conversation with Lathan “Young Lay” Williams and his book ReveLaytionz
Bay Area Rapper Young Lay was on the rise of his career, landing a song on the movie soundtrack of New Jersey Drive, a 1995 Spike Lee, 40 Acres and a Mule production, written and directed by Nick Gomez. Lathan “Young Lay” Williams worked with notable artists such as Tupac Shakur, Mac Dre, and Ray Luv. One of Williams’ songs, “All About My Fetti,” was featured in New Jersey Drive and was recognized by The Recording Industry Association of America for over 500,000 albums sold, achieving Gold status. From this high, Williams’ motivation for life was ripped away, and he had to hit rock bottom in preparation for brighter days ahead.
From the outside looking in, it is easy to judge and often generalize while projecting our lens of experiences on the lives of others.
In the case of Williams, the tragedy he endured at a young age resembles a Lifetime movie, yet he embraces a life of gratitude and forgiveness and is determined to help others. On his worst day, Young Lay never would have imagined that heartbreak and devastation were lurking close by.
Young Lay experienced the murder of his love and the abduction of his newborn son.
The story, in his words, is now available on Amazon. The book ReveLaytionz by Lathan Williams is a brutally honest story about how Williams navigated this tragic time in his life that he still faces daily. Williams’ story aired on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries in 1996. The case is now solved.
Here are some highlights from our conversation about his life:
Q: What or who inspired you to become a rapper?
A: I was inspired in Junior High school when my friend asked me whether I wanted to sign up for the school talent show.
Q: When did you decide that you wanted to pursue music?
A: When we won 1st place at that talent.
Q: What goals do you have for your music career?
A: To branch off to being a music producer and start making beats for my songs.
Q: What artist do you look forward to collaborating with?
A: I want to start collaborating with Rhythm and Blues singers and do some songs/albums with my folks from my community.
Q: What advice would you give your younger self now that you have some life experience?
A: Be sure to take all contracts and music agreements to a music lawyer before you sign anything. Also, ensure you get your masters before leaving all studio sessions.
Q: What are some of the most significant challenges you faced, and how did you overcome them?
A: My biggest challenge was being incarcerated for 12 years while my son was kidnapped. I overcame that by believing, hoping, and keeping faith in God.
Q: Why did you decide now to write your story, and what do you hope readers gain from your book, ReveLaytionz?
A: I wrote a book so that the world would know my story and that if you don’t give up hope and keep faith in God — he will heal you through it all.
Q: How do you practice gratitude?
A: I practice gratitude through daily prayer and being kind to everyone. The things that I experienced could have broken me, but I was able to see a better life for myself.
Q: What can our communities do about resources for those who have faced challenges around housing, addiction, or those formerly incarcerated?
A: Build more affordable homes and create more shelters with services. Having experienced homelessness and substance abuse, I needed help. My life was spiraling, and it took me hitting rock bottom to begin changing my life, finally.
Williams was transparent about his experiences and choices, sharing, “In 1999, I got arrested for armed robbery. I had to serve ten years of a 12-year sentence. My son, Le-Zhan, was still missing during this time, and I was really stressed mentally. I learned from the overall ordeal that if you are positive and patient and keep the faith, the Lord will give you all that was lost and all you need,” shared Williams.
Williams’ son was abducted in 1996 at four months of age, and discovered living only two miles from Williams’ girlfriend’s home. Upon investigation, it was found that two of his girlfriend’s classmates committed her murder and Le-Zhan’s abduction, which led to their arrests.
During life’s challenges, we all need a way to cope and carry on, and sometimes, our personal decisions can delay us from moving forward.
Either way, it is through triumph over tribulations that we can learn to navigate life in a positive and conducive way that makes a difference in us personally and in the lives we touch.
At this stage in Williams’s life, he advocates for helping others who have experienced substance abuse, incarceration, and being unsheltered. Williams stated, “People need to wake up and realize that if we help one another instead of looking down on certain people, this world would be a better place.”
Williams is happily married and living in the Bay Area.
The movie New Jersey Drive is available on Starz and other streaming platforms, and his music is available on streaming platforms. “All About My Fetti” has recently returned to the music community. ”All About Fetti” by DJ Gutta Butta and LaRussel featuring DaBoi is a regeneration of “All About My Fetti” by Young Lay, which featured Mac Mall and Ray Luv. With blessings from Young Lay, DJ Gutta Butta remixes the old with the new while uplifting the essence of one of the most successful songs of its time.