Latyrx: Still Deft And Defiant After Two Decades | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Latyrx: Still Deft And Defiant After Two Decades

Play associated audio

It's been 17 years between albums for the Bay Area alt-rap duo Latyrx. Oakland-born Lateef Daumont is a Black Panther's son who raps as Lateef the Truthspeaker, while Tokyo-born Tom Shimura, a banker's son, raps as Lyrics Born. In 1996, they collaborated on The Album, a gorgeous and contemplative record. Then, they went their solo ways for almost two decades. Now, finally, they've brought forth what is hands-down the alt-rap album of the year.

Thumbing its nose at know-nothings who still believe that rapping isn't music, Latyrx's The Second Album is launched by two rabble-rousing speeches that are musical in themselves.

The new album works to vary the rappers' contrasting flows — not just with basic beats, but with a wealth of melodic elements. These come mostly from the West Coast hip-hop underground. But two remarkable tracks were produced by tUnE-yArDs' Merrill Garbus; the liquid "Watershed Moment" evokes the elixir of life in more ways than one.

Latyrx's members aren't kids anymore -- The Second Album is what we inevitably call "mature." But for Latyrx, maturity is an occasion for fresh invention, from a song where rumors about a lost cat kick off an anti-terrorism initiative to a gun control number in which patriots in powdered wigs load their muskets one bullet at a time.

Lateef is the activist firebrand; Lyrics Born the one-step-at-a-time philosopher of moderation and what he calls "entrepreneurial spirit." But both make it their business to look forward. The Second Album is life-affirming, with a force few artists in any genre can match.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, Sept. 2

You can see a selection of Chinese films or meditate on the meaning of the word “axis” at an art exhibition.

NPR

These 5 Crops Are Still Hand-Harvested, And It's Hard Work

Saffron, vanilla, palm oil, cacao and cottonseed oil are still picked by hand in some parts of the world. Sometimes that manual labor shows up in the price of the food; sometimes it doesn't.
NPR

The Politics Of Calling In Sick

A growing grass-roots movement aims to establish paid sick leave in the U.S., enjoying some success at the city and state level. The issue is already playing big in 2014 political races.
NPR

Using Technology To Counter Police Mistrust Is Complicated

Police officers in Ferguson, Mo., are now wearing body cameras. But cameras don't solve everything. Sometimes, they can create more disputes.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.