"No, I never thought that one day I'd be working with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. It's funny because I went to the Preservation Hall in the '90s to watch them play and I appreciated the music, but my world was centered around hip-hop for a long long time," answered Lyrics Born when quizzed if he ever envisioned himself one day working with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, as the longtime Bay Area emcee/Quannum co-founder/Latyrx member does on his latest solo album. Entitled Real People and released through his own Mobile Home Recordings label, it is the eighth album (including solo and group) from the artist born Tsutomu "Tom" Shimura, and is available from Amoeba in both CD and digital download formats with a forthcoming vinyl version on the way.
Mostly upbeat with just a few down-tempo tracks, the 13 track, 44 minute album is a recommended uplifting funky fresh collection of New Orleans flavored hip-hop unlike any you've heard before that features, in addition to the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, such other NOLA heavyweights as Ivan Neville and Trombone Shorty, plus full production by the Big Easy's Robert Mercurio and Ben Ellman from Galactic. In addition to the full Galactic band (who join Lyrics Born on the killer cut "Rock-Rock-Away"), other album contributors include Corey Henry, Corey Glover of Living Colour, David Shaw of The Revivalists, and Billy Martin of Medeski, Martin & Wood fame.
Sixteen long hip-hop years ago Bay Area duo Latyrx (Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truth Speaker) released their highly innovative, critically-acclaimed full length debut The Album. And now in late 2013 the hip-hop power-duo, who've separately enjoyed highly prolific and successful individual careers over the past decade and a half, have finally reunited to record and release the long overdue follow up: The Second Album which arrived in Amoeba on November 5th.
In celebration of this recommended new album, that was released via Latyramid and is also available in vinyl format, they will be doing a special Bay Area concert tomorrow night at the Independent in San Francisco - on a bill also featuring album contributors Forrest Day and Gift of Gab (as host), plus Aaron Axelsen. With a wide variety of producers including Amp Live from Zion I, Jel from Anticon, tUnE-yArDs, the Decemberists' Chris Funk, and Forrest Day, plus such select mic guests as fellow Solesides/Quannum collective member the Gift of Gab from Blackalicious, Zion I's Zumbi, and LA emcee Busdriver - Lyrics Born and Lateef have concocted a richly diverse album that, while sonically quite different from its predecessor (more alt-rap than roots and experimental hip-hop), is one of the better and more adventurous hip-hop releases of 2013. "It’s very eclectic, mature, nonsensical imaginative, poetic, organic, synthetic," summed up Lyrics Born of the album in a pre-release description of the anticipated new album. This week I caught up with the two busy members of Latyrx via email to ask them each four questions. Their responses appear below immediately following the video for the new album track "Exclamation Point" that was produced by and also features on vocals Forrest Day.
LiveWIre contains countless shout outs to "The Town" including mentions of Interstate 580, SoulBeat TV, and Skyline High School. In fact the East Oakland born & raised emcee even arranged a Skyline High School rap reunion of sorts on the new album's lead single "Oakland" which features cameos from two fellow alumni of the Oakland high school: Del the Funky Homosapien and The Grouch.
One morning last month I caught up with Lateef at World Ground Coffee cafe on MacArthur in East Oakland's Laurel District where he was grabbing a hot drink before heading out on the road, along with fellow Solesides/Quannum member Lyrics Born, to travel up to the North West to do some shows. The two emcees, who as well as having their own individual careers collaborate together as Latryx, (but had not in a long while) had just done two nights of "reunion" shows at The Independent in San Francisco along with such other local artists as Bayonics, Honor Roll, and Hopie Spitshard. "Awesome" was how Lateef described those two shows. In addition to being one of the founding members of the Solesides crew/hip-hop collective that morphed into Quannum Projects Lateef is also part of The Maroons (with Chief Xcel) and has another side career recording with Fatboy Slim. He told me that he and Lyrics Born were busy working on the long overdue follow up Latryx project - that he and Lyrics Born, along with some help from individuals like DJ Shadow and Chief XCel, began almost two full decades ago - but haven't released anything new in over a dozen years with the exception of a few new bits on a mixtape CD (and now a download for sale on LB's site) Latryical Madness Vol 1 mixed by DJ Zeph . "We are about six songs into it [new Latryx album] right now with production on there by Amp Live, Cut Chemist, the Bangerz [formerly Finger Bangerz] are on there doing some stuff. And a few other cats as well: DJ Shadow and [Dan the] Automator is supposed to give us some stuff. And Chief Xcel is supposed to give us some stuff. We've got a bunch of stuff," he said.