Lateef the Truth Speaker


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A creeper that takes way too long to sort itself, rapper/singer Lateef’s solo debut is as cluttered, diverse, and insider as the man’s résumé, which includes Latyrx (with Lyrics Born), the Maroons or Lateef & the Chief (with Chief Xcel), and the Solesides collective, which evolved into Quannum Projects. Folks who could have rattled that off themselves will find the twists (“Firewire Interlude” is a loopy bit of glitch-hop) and turns (“Oakland” is a rap-rock cruncher with Living Colour urgency) less unexpected and even welcoming, which could be Firewire’s biggest issue if you're looking for a showcase debut. As the album coolly rolls through the land of throwback funk and over the hills of electroclash synths and even indie rock (play “Sara” for a Phoenix fan and just watch him or her ask for a copy), Lateef remains the obscured man on the album's cover, hidden by brilliant flashes of light and tasteful design. If it’s by choice, fans won’t mind, as they can’t pick out the sly rhymes and simmering commentary underneath as patented Lateef, while everyone else can rely on names like Shadow, Dan the Automator, and Del on the track list and trust that Lateef is worthy of their company, even if it isn't obvious on first listen.

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