Various Artists

Solesides Greatest Bumps, Vol. 2

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In 1992, the unlikely locale of Davis, CA, gave rise to Solesides, a record label and musical collective that brought together a group of like-minded hip-hop fanatics. During their first six years together, members DJ Shadow, Gift of Gab, Chief Xcel, Lateef, and Lyrics Born released a series of singles and EPs which promised a virtual reinvention of rap music. By 1998, on the brink of new projects and wider recognition, the group adopted the Quannum banner. Solesides Greatest Bumps is a fond look back at their formative years, gathering all of the groups finest moments.

It begins where Solesides began, with their first sessions at Dan the Automator's Glue Factory. Already, their unique fire is present in the eyes of Lyrics Born on "Asia's Verse," a performance oozing with cool confidence. In a genre built on self-aggrandizement, the Solesides MCs managed to come up with ever inventive ways to declare superiority on the mic. This reached its apex on "The Wreckoning." Over a haunting DJ Shadow backing, Lateef mercilessly destroys his opponent with his "lesson of perfection." He then proceeds to take the tale beyond your wildest imagination, detailing the death and decomposition of his challenger with true crime realism. As half of Latyrx, Lateef would play the hyper-intelligent older sibling to Lyrics Born's sly, more unruly misfit. The concept of "Latyrx" (the song from which the duo took their name) is baffling. On this a cappella excerpt, the two MCs rap like they inhabit separate, yet parallel, realities. Though cut from a more conventional hip-hop cloth, Gab and Xcel (Blackalicious) were a sure-fire rhyme-and-beat team that contributed Solesides' minor hit "Swan Lake" from their stellar Melodica EP.

Almost everything on Solesides Greatest Bumps is now out of print and highly collectable. As Quannum, the collective have taken a subtle shift away from the more organic beats and jazz samples of Solesides toward a sort of electro-soul sound. On later recordings like "Lady Don't Tek No" and "Blue Flames," the rapping was becoming similarly diluted. Consequently, listeners never hear the likes of Solesides again.