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LATYRX: The Album 20th Anniversary DLX

[RATING: 5] As the end of the nineties segued into the noughties, there was a point at which the Soulsides crew morphed into the Quannum crew and pretty much had the U.S. West Coast sewn up like some sort of alternative Californian Wu-Tang. And it’s easy to see why. There was DJ Shadow (perceived as the ‘big’ producer figure -despite the fact that various other members were more than capable knob twiddlers), Blackalicious (Chief Excel & Gift Of Gab), Latyrx (Lateef Truthspeaker & Lyrics Born) and a host of satellite/ affiliate members including Lifesavas, Joyo Velarde and Tommy Guerrero. Musically, there was the grand ‘all-members’ album project – Quannum Spectrum – on which the whole crew appeared (along with Jurassic 5 and Souls Of Mischief!) and a slew of core member joint and solo projects, one of the earliest of which was Latyrx’s Latyrx The Album.

And if Lyrics Born and Lateef Truthspeaker were somewhat late to the party album-wise (Shadow had released a number of mixtapes in the early 90s followed by trip-hop touchstone Endtroducing in 1996) they beat Blackalicious to providing the earliest conventional hip-hop album from the crew with the classic Latyrx The Album in 1997. But that’s ‘conventional’ with a very small ‘c’. The album combined dextrous lyricism alternating between the cerebral and the sexy with beats that drew influences from funk (Bad News) and electro (The Quickening) while managing to sound utterly contemporary. And now it is being released again on its twentieth anniversary in deluxe double album format with two banging extra cuts – the super phat Looking Over The City (from Quannum Spectrum and featuring El-P of Company Flow/ Run The Jewels fame) and Last Trumpet off Lyrics Born’s debut solo LP Later That Day. The re-release also comes with liner notes from Bay Area journalist Eric Arnold (which includes input from both Lyrics Born and Lateef The Truthspeaker) and the first thousand buyers will be rewarded with a seven inch featuring (for the first time ever on 45!) classic non-album Latyrx cut Lady Don’t Tek No in vocal and instrumental versions. Best not sleep eh?
(Out now on Real People)

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