Release Date: Nov 5, 2013
Record label: Latyramid
Genre(s): Rap, Alternative Rap, Underground Rap
The big, bold, and beautiful track "Arrival" is a fantastic opener for Latyrx's sophomore release, so good and so soul-filling that the 16-year wait between the duo's albums seems vindicated. As member Lateef the Truth Speaker declares "We won't be denied/Progress is on our side" while partner Lyrics Born co-signs with "It's an awesome time for those of us who felt marginalized," it's as if the two, mostly solo and mostly social-political artists, reserve this Latyrx tag for only the most purposeful of projects. When "It's Time" hits with its speaker-grinding, bass-dropping combination of dubstep and dope advice ("It's time, for you to stop being a robot" and later, "Shoot them down like Galaga"), calling this a solid comeback would be easy, but the cohesive, all-A+ rug gets pulled out from the album soon afterwards, as things wander into free-form territory and the veteran underground crew explores the 2013 hip-hop landscape of emo, indie, and whatnot.
Sixteen years after their groundbreaking The Album, Lateef the Truthspeaker and Lyrics Born return as Latyrx for The Second Album. Where The Album felt vibrant and off-the-cuff, thrilling in its loose assembly, The Second Album is a traditional record, with solid production and a coherent vision. Time has caught up to the electronic flourishes that made Latyrx sound unlike anything else in 1997.
Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truthspeaker's first collaboration as Latyrx came out 16 years ago – an eternity for trend-conscious rappers but the blink of an eye for two guys from the East Bay underground who always seemed to follow their own clocks anyway. Their second album isn't as radically unusual as its well-regarded predecessor, but the template remains the same: eclectic without getting wacky, thoughtful without getting preachy, full of great wordplay over beats that tie hip-hop to a history of all-purpose head-nod music from funk to electro and beyond. "Greatness is a series of baby steps," Born argues on "Exclamation Point." "Day in, day out, it's daily reps" – an old-fashioned notion but an enduring one.
Latyrx, aka Lateef the Truthspeaker and Lyrics Born, is one of the great slept-on rap groups of the late ’90s. Their debut full-length, The Album, was an angry, sociopolitical rhymefest, a lost classic that’s improved with age. But, the duo took a hiatus from Latyrx to pursue solo careers after releasing the record. Fans have had to chew on the same album for the past 15 years (even longer than fellow alt-rap group Deltron 3030?s break), but Lateef and Lyrics Born have revived Latyrx for that long-awaited sophomore LP, The Second Album.
Sixteen years separates The Album and The Second Album. That's a preposterous amount of time, even when you consider everything that the two members of epochal Bay Area indie rap duo Latyrx have been up to in the interim. Lyrics Born has lent his good-natured conversational virtuosity to a string of adequate-to-great solo albums (great-to-adequate if you're going chronologically).