Lateef: The Truth Speaker
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Anyone lucky enough to get hold of the hard-to-find Solesides' 12"s, will be familiar with the vocal dexterity of Lateef the Truth Speaker and Lyrics Born (also a hip hop producer in his own right). This eclectic duo have now released perhaps the most bone-crushingly, head spinningly original hip hop album since Dr. Octagon. I got the chance to ask Lateef a few questions before the guys set out on an extensive tour (taking in Europe).
Fly: Is there an overall concept behind the album? Is there an underlying message throughout.
LT (Lateef the Truth Speaker): The underlying message is originality. With this record we tried to show a diverse cross-section of what we are capable of doing musically and Lyrically.
Fly: Are your raps a free flow of conscious lyrics or is it just psycho babble?
LT: What the hell is psycho babble? Anyway, someofthestuffisfreeflowofconsciousness and other stuff is pretty straight forward. We don't try to limit ourselves and refuse to let others define us. However, being that we are conscious individuals, I would hope that it comes through in the music.
Fly: Your styles are completely unique... is it important to you, to maintain that originality?
LT: Hell yeah. We are both original individuals with unique experiences and whilst we respect each others talent we find no desire to emulate each other. We each have our own voice and we use this voice to challenge each other to explore more deeply our own exclusive creative terrain.
Fly: Are your roots an important factor?
LT: Yes, in the sense that our roots played a large part in defining who we are today. Our respective cultural backgrounds also provide up with a historical tapestry from which to draw reasons and conclusions about the world and its situation at present.
Fly: Who is sharing production duties on the album?
LT: Lyrics Born handles roughly half of the beats. DJ Shadow produced 3 cuts, and Chief Xcel of Blackalicious produced 2 cuts as well.
Fly: Will the Lateef/Lyrics Born collaboration be a one off album experience or have you joined forces permanently?
LT: Latyrx is an entity and will operate as such. While we are both working on solo albums, Latyrx will endure as a creative outlet for Lyrics Born and myself to explore ideas and concepts in music, jointly.
Fly: What are your inspirations for your music (musical and other)?
LT: Most of my inspiration for my music comes from life. Any experience, anything that I'm exposed to has the potential to be song material. At different stages in my personal development my inspiration has changed and evolved, but I can say today that any music that I hear inspires me in some way - be it a positive way or a negative way.
Fly: What would be your ultimate hip hop track and why?
LT: My Philosophy - KRS1. That shit was dope. Pure Expression.
Fly: What do you think of the current hip hop scene and how would YOU like to see it progress?
LT: Right now the scene is kinda sad but it seems to come in waves. The last 3-4 years have been a bit of a lull with the music industry flooded with too much money (inside and outside the music) and too many (wack) acts. But everything changes and happens for a reason so hopefully artists will begin investing in artistry again.
Fly: How does Solesides see itself in relation to the rest of the hip hop community?
LT: I can't speak for everybody but I can say that I feel that we exist as a strong independent - and therefore very respected - entity that is not subject to the industries limitations and therefore operates just outside of the industry framework. In terms of how other artists (MC's and producers) perceive us, I have no idea being that I haven't talked to them about it. But they don't even have to like it as long as they respect it.
Fly: Are you a fiercely independent label or just waiting for the right offer to come along?
LT: We are fiercely independent- which is why we are waiting for the right deal. We are admittedly difficult to deal with because we have such strong views artistically and ask for certain contract clauses that protect us as artists simultaneously evening the playing field between our label and a proposing label. Sharing is a lot to ask from an industry that has notoriously made its money through exploitation.
Fly: What are Solesides plans for '97 and beyond?
LT: '97 is chock full. Latyrx will be putting out a Muzapper EP around May - June... it's bumpin'. Blackalicious has an incredible album in store for the summer that has to be heard to be believed. The artists of Solesides - collectively known as Quannum - will be releasing a record that promises to be something else. After that you can look forward to a solo project from Lyrics Born and a Lateef and the Chief album as well. A Latyrx album will undoubtedly follow and DJ Shadow will also definitely drop a bomb somewhere so watch out.
Fly: Ok that's it .... the album is the BOMB! total respect and keep it sur-real.
LT: Most Def. Look out for us when Latyrx and DJ Shadow tour Europe in May '97, we got some shiz-nit. Peace.
(Thanks to Jeff @ Solesides for making the interview possible)
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