20 years after its initial release, the Bay Area uber-classic Latyrx: The Album – lyricists Lyrics Born and Lateef The Truthspeaker, with production from DJ Shadow, Chief Xcel and Lyrics Born – still stands as a seminal recording. It has gone on to resonate with successive
generations of listeners, and influence countless artists. Recorded over a two-year period, it was the first full-length release from the legendary Solesides collective, and encapsulates a highly creative and influential time in hip-hop, frequently dubbed The Golden Age.
Over the course of the original release’s 42 minutes, not only can you hear Lyrics Born and Lateef literally growing into themselves as artists, but you can also hear the germination of the Solesides sound, first given birth at California’s UC Davis in the early ‘90s, driven by brothers-in-beats-and-rhymes Blackalicious and DJ Shadow. Partially by design, and partially out of necessity, Latyrx—and the Solesides crew as a whole—became trailblazers. Lyrics Born remembers (in this set’s lengthy liner notes), “We really wanted to explore. New styles, new subject matter, new textures, new vocabulary.
It came down to even wanting to do words in the English language that you had never heard in a rap song before. It was all about pushing.” And push they did, with game-changing lyrical exercises like “Say That,” “Balcony Beach,” “The Wreckoning” and “The Muzappers Mix.”
Beyond cuts that back-in- the-day fans know from the original sequence, the two bonus tracks included in this edition are: “Looking Over A City” [produced by El-P], originally released on the Quannum compilation Spectrum. And “The Last Trumpet,” which closes this new deluxe edition. Originally appearing on the 2003 Lyrics Born solo album Later That Day, it’s one of Latyrx’s most-realized collaborations, and one of their most overtly-politically-themed songs.
This deluxe, 2-LP issue of Latyrx: The Album is a must for longtime fans and newly-initiated listeners alike, with in-depth liner notes by veteran Bay Area journalist Eric Arnold (including input from Lyrics Born and Lateef The Truthspeaker) and packaged in a gatefold format.