Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Classic Interview - Lateef The Truth Speaker and Lyrics Born

Interview by Doxx...

This interview originally appeared in Issue 2 of Strivin' magazine (1997).

How did the collaboration come together?
Lyrics Born: Everybody on SoleSides works as a group at some point or another. Back in '95 Lateef was working on his twelve inch, "The Quickening," and we did the song "Latyrx" together and it worked out so well we decided to go ahead and do a full length project. Thus the Latyrx album.

I remember I was talkin' to Lateef on the last interview and you said you were gonna do the same kind of album, but with Chief Xcel.
Lateef: The Lateef and The Chief record will probably be out some time next year.

Let's talk about some of the songs on the Latyrx album. "Latyrx" is an interesting song with the doubled vocals, both rapping at the same time is something unique. Why did you choose to do that? LB: Essentially we wanted to do something that was, one: that we hadn't ever done before and two: that we hadn't really heard nobody do before. We had kinda been bouncing around the idea before. The way that the music moves in that song... We liked the way it moved so much that we used that as another element. We both used our own vocals as instruments and then the beat that Shadow had arranged, we used that as an instrument as well.

Could you kind of explain your verses?
LB: We both purposely took different angles so that you could listen to each verse into and of itself, however there were themes that we touched upon in both of our verses that allow you to... The content is kinda similar in certain points and the word use kind of plays off of each other so you can follow it over and across the vocals.
L: It's the same theme sort of, but just different approaches.
LB: So stylistically we touched the same bases at certain points like on "privately" we both say that at the same time. The momentum slows down for a moment and then we build together again. The way that the content is, your ear can travel in between the concepts that we're talking about even though we're both completely on different lines.

The whole SoleSides organization is done real independent, but is known worldwide. How do you feel that with the amount of fans you guys have most of 'em are the more "hip hop" fans and a lot of people who listen to other styles aren't really recognizing you yet? Why do you think it is that you're not getting the all-around recognition?
LB: I think it's just a matter of promotion really. It's like with anything, you can't deny the fact that in the music business you need to have certain pieces in place in order to get your tunes across. So for the most part, all we ever had the money to do was press vinyl. So if that's all you have money for, that's the only crowd you're gonna reach. Undoubtedly, if I had Columbia or somebody behind us we could go out there and put snipes up, we could go out there and do a promo tour which are things that after four years of puttin' out records we're just starting to do now with our own money. And SoleSides, we're making big giant steps everyday. We're working with singers now, we're working with live bands now, we're touring now and on the business end we're doing a lot of new things as well. Going back to your question, it just has to do with a lot of economic issues.

"Balcony Beach." That's an interesting one too. What's the whole idea behind it?
LB: I finished writing it about a year ago, but I started it about two years ago. The whole concept of "Balcony Beach" is basically just that everybody hits that time in their life where you're not a kid anymore. You don't know what's what. You've been using a certain set of values and a certain way of thinking about things and all of a sudden you wake up one day and they don't work for you anymore. Nothing is as simple as it used to be. You gotta take care of yourself, et cetera, et cetera. You start making your own decisions and it's like, "Whoa, which direction am I gonna take?"

You gotta get out there and be a man.
LB: Exactly. That's the whole point.

Now the whole SoleSides crew came together at UC Davis, right? Was it all because there was a radio show and you guys all hooked up there?
L: Essentially it was KDVS radio shows. We heard each other on the radio. That was kinda our haven away from bullshit that exists on the campus itself. That was where we all kind of gravitated towards. We just met up and all had kinda the same ideas about hip hop and where we thought hip hop should go and we were able to share our own experiences and interpretations as well as history that we had gained along the way. That's kinda how it all came together.

I know Lateef is from Oakland. Where were you (Lyrics Born) from originally before you went up to school?
LB: I'm from Berkeley. In one way or another most of us are from the Bay and we all ended up in Davis somehow.

What was it like livin' up in Davis 'cause I've been there and there isn't really nothin' up there?

L: That shit is just school man. It was good in a lot of ways because down here you're exposed to a lot of bullshit opinions about music in general. You're exposed to the propaganda. We were lucky to be shielded from a lot of that and kinda foster our own viewpoint of music and life in general.

You hear about people touring in England and Japan and they say that they seem to appreciate the music more over there than in the US. Do you think that's true?
L: I think that they appreciate music a lot more over there. It's kind of a different value system. Over there they're really into the music. That's not always enough out here anymore. People in America are a little bit more on their own dicks. They don't fuckin' jock nobody. You gotta make sure that they hear your shit. They're not gonna go out lookin' for your shit. So that's a big difference 'cause out there they're lookin' for the new shit. Out here they want you to impress them. America is a real consumer driven exonomy so a lot of times people are defined by what they have materialwise. You could work at fuckin' McDonald's, but if you got a Lexus you're still the man.
LB: I've been to Europe and Japan and they're both very similar in the way that they consume American music. Typically we've been the creators for the world so we have the luxury of being able to take our music for granted. They've typically been the recipient in the relationship. That's not the case, but that's the attitude that we take. There's a lot of good groups in other parts of the world, but typically the United States is looked to as the end all, be all authority.
L: Particularly by Americans.
LB: The way that American culture is, we're in a fast food culture to where we just use something up and then throw it away. Since we're so used to creating it, we're used to having it put on a plate and having it handed to us. In England they've traditionally had to search for it, in Japan they've traditionally had to search for it. I think that comes into play a lot. In America you've got to spoon feed it to people whereas in England or Japan they're out there actively searching for your shit. L: Some shit that we'll throw away, they'll buy for $200.
LB: You go to Japan and Common Sense's first album which came out two years ago goes for $120!

What's next for SoleSides?
L: We have a Muzappers EP coming out which is gonna kind of be like the versatility you see in "Latyrx" superimposed on a "Muzappers" theme. It's gonna have a few new songs on there, a few mixes of "Muzappers." That'll be out like around May. Blackalicious is comin' out with they record which is fat. Then we have a record which is all of us, all of the artists within SoleSides. It's called Quannum. We're all looking forward to that one.
LB: That's only the stuff that's scheduled. You never know what's gonna happen. That's all stuff that's definitely gonna come out, but we're always working on other things. We're going out on tour with Jeru and De La, we got the video coming for "Say That" and "Balcony Beach." When we get back we're gonna be working on whole new records. DJ Shadow just shot his video. His album is out. A lot of stuff is happening right now, you just gotta be on the lookout. Definitely you gotta be on the lookout for the album, the Latyrx album and then the Blackalicious album.


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