Orgone & Latyrx (Lyrics Born & Lateef the Truth Speaker) w/ Digg

For over a decade, Orgone has been steaming up nightclubs and drenching the largest music festivals in the country in sweat. Serving a cold-blooded concoction of deep soul, rare funk, and afro-disco with a raw rock star edge that is uniquely LA, Orgone’s music grabs you by the collar, pulls you to your feet, and shoves you out onto the dance floor. Tough, sexy, and adventurous, this sonic muscle car shifts through multiple gears from slyly slinky to seismically cinematic, while remaining spacious and uncluttered. eMusic says: “Their music is terrifically unfussy, big slabs of grizzled R&B, greasy as fatback, and thick as a very particular kind of smoke.” For their searing live performances and warm, dirty homegrown recordings, Orgone has been called “One of the heaviest acts we’ve heard in years” by Dusty Groove America.

The band is a symbiosis of eight seasoned musicians, at the core of which are keyboardist Dan Hastie and guitarist Sergio Rios who started creating classic sounds as green teens brought together by a mutual affinity for raw soul recordings. Members of Orgone have collaborated/performed with the Roots, Al Green, Gil Scott-Heron, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Breakestra, Thievery Corporation, and the Monophonics. As tight in the studio as they are on stage, …as the backing band on Cee Lo Green’s multiple Grammy Award-winning track “Fool for You” and Alicia Keys’ “As I Am” album.

Up front and unmistakable is Adryon de Leon, Orgone’s lightning rod, whose hearty, agile vocals are an intoxicating foil to the gritty intensity of the band. Orgone is currently getting their hands dirty in KillionSound, their Fortress of Soulitude, injecting the pure, passionate heat of their live sound into wax. Throughout this year, the band will maintain a strong touring presence while tantalizing crowds with new material from their upcoming album, which will be released into the wild in the Fall of 2014.

Back in 1995, Bay Area rap was at the big-ballin' peak of the mobb music craze, LA was chronically gripped in a G-funk indo smoke haze, Atlanta was enjoying its Southernplayalistic days, and NYC was entering a shiny-suit phase. There was no frame of reference for two lyrical emcees experimenting with the tonality and resonance of rhyme patterns.

This was uncharted territory.

The pairing of Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truthspeaker into Latyrx was "an accident," LB recalls. Both emcees were solo artists, but when LB heard the pre-Endtroducing DJ Shadow beat which would become Latyrx' eponymous debut single, his reaction was, "Oh my God, I gotta get on this."

"Latyrx" was a syllabic tour de force which began with two dissonant voices -- one gruff and bassy, the other higher-pitched and trebly, both hella fluid -- it transmogrified into a harmonic convergence of doubled verses simultaneously assaulting eardrums. Undeniably, it was great... but weird. "It was ill," Lateef recalls. "We really felt like we had something unlike anyone else had done," he adds.

Latyrx' first and thusfar, only, full-length, 1997's Latyrx: the Album, "set the tone for what Solesides and Quannum would do," LB recalls, while 1998's Muzappers Re-Mixes EP spawned one of the only feminist-affirming club bangers in hip-hop history, "Lady Don't Tek No."

Though Latyrx never officially broke up, after Muzappers, both members followed their chosen paths to considerable solo success. Yet no matter how much acclaim each attained individually, the notion of someday making another Latyrx record was always present. "It's probably the number one thing I got asked about in my career," LB says.

16 years (!) after the release of Latyrx: the Album, LB and Lateef have finally answered the prayers of long-starved fans who have begged, pleaded and, by now, tweeted about the possibilities of a reunion. An impromptu Latyrx set at a 2010 Jazz Mafia concert at San Francisco's Mezzanine led to an appearance at 2011's Outside Lands festival, Google's Summer Concert Series (they were the first ever hip-hop act to perform) and a last minute appearance as part of HITRECORD At The Movies -- a unique film and music traveling showcase curated and hosted by actor and artist Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Most recently the duo have performed at the Wintersalt Festival in San Francisco last December and toured the United States with super funk group, Galactic.

Having just released a brand new EP titled 'DISCONNECTION' late last year, LB & Lateef are hard at work on the proper follow up to their debut album, a new record aptly titled, 'THE SECOND ALBUM'.

Featuring a long list of producers and special guests, the album credits read like a music festival with artists from Tune Yards and Forrest Day to Blackalicious and The Decemberists stepping in to help create one of the most highly anticipated records of all time.

What Latyrx brings to the table is a technical difficulty level rare these days in hip-hop and matched only by a few groups in the genre's entire history: Run-DMC, Jurassic 5, Blackstar, Freestyle Fellowship. Their challenging, intricate back-and forth arrangements evoke a lyrical version of bebop, with layer upon layer of rhythmic syncopation and vocal patterning constantly pushing the envelope.

"We have a good chemistry and it's kind of unique," Lateef says. "We step up each others' game content, and both of us push each other in the originality department."

"What we've talked about is very simply, picking up where we left off," LB explains. The return of Latyrx stands as Very Good News for true hip-hop fans, lyrical aficionados, boom-bap beatniks, urban bohemians, wee tots in Reeboks, and Muzappers of all shapes, sizes, colors, and ages.

Lyrics Born

The first words of Lyrics Born's eighth album speak volumes about where the legendary MC stands these days: "Real people do real things. Yes we do." The Bay Area resident born Tom Shimura has stood at the peak of high-minded underground rap, explored the far reaches of interstellar synth-hop, and blazed trails galore both solo and as half of Latyrx. But as clap-along live funk of Real People's titular song fires up and that familiar, molasses-rich voice enters the fray, it's clear LB's feet are squarely on the ground with the rest of ours, scuffing up the concrete as they kick, stomp, shuffle, and dance to the unpredictable rhythms of grown-ass living.
Twenty-two years after he was introduced to the world with "Send Them" — the landmark left-field 12- inch that launched the Solesides label b/w DJ Shadow's "Entropy" — Lyrics Born has made some of the most organic, original, and adventurous music of his entire career. While touring with Latyrx last, he made time for an extended stay in a place that he's long admired: America's first and last real-deal music town, New Orleans. LB stocked up on pads and pens, rented a cozy house three blocks from the famous Maple Leaf Bar, and booked two weeks' worth of sessions with Galactic guys Robert Mercurio and Ben Ellman at their Uptown studio. Then they let it rip.
Funk has always been a part of what Lyrics Born does — his unique vocal swagger dishes out melody and rhyme with equal aplomb. But never has he evoked the idiom so directly or made an album that feels so alive. He turned the production over entirely (also a first) to his NOLA colleagues, giving them space to do what they do best, and him the freedom to write. Mercurio and Ellman wrangled a host of talent to execute the vision: Trombone Shorty, Ivan Neville, the Preservation Jazz Hall Band, Corey Glover (Living Colour), Corey Henry (Treme Brass Band), David Shaw (The Revivalists), and Billy Martin. Amidst all that quirk, soul, and raw talent, LB was reborn.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the phrase "second act" comes up more than once on Real People. Married 10 years to his longtime partner-in-song Joyo Velarde, and a father to a 5-year-old son, our host embraces adulthood without reservation. He sounds happier, wiser, and looser than ever, whether revisiting his days as a child of divorce ("Real People"), dedicating a smooth cut to lifelong romance ("Around the Bend"), penning a kiss-off to the music industry ("Good Riddance"), examining the Great Recession in depth ("WTF"), or bragging to the beat on "$ir Racha." LB's liquid delivery morphs appropriately for every occasion.
That too is to be expected though. The Tokyo-born, Berkeley-based artist has owned his career each step of the way, ever since a radio gig at UC Davis' KDVS put him in the same room as Shadow, the mighty Blackalicious, and his Latyrx partner Lateef the Truthspeaker. As co-founder of the Solesides and Quannum Projects labels, LB was vital in pushing independent hip-hop music into the limelight, dropping a minted classic (The Album) with his duo in 1997, and another one on his own with Later That Day in 2003. The Same !@#$ Different Day set followed in 2005, rounding up the likes of KRS-One, Dan the
Automator, Cut Chemist, E-40, and Morcheeba for a series of radical remixes. A year later, Overnite Encore captured LB's renowned live set (complete with backing band) in Australia.
He expanded his palette again with 2008's Everywhere at Once on historic punk label Epitaph Records. The instrument-heavy LP spawned a Jimmy Kimmel Live! appearance with "I Like It, I Love It," which was actually the man's second visit to the show. (He teamed with Galactic the year before to do their first song together, "What U Need.") Now, after dropping 2010's synth-powered As U Were via Decon, Lyrics Born is proud to officially launch his very own Mobile Home Records with Real People. The new album's strong focus is a compliment to the wild range of Latyrx's 2013 return, The Second Album, which featured collaborations with folks from tUnE-yArDs, Decemberists, and Anticon, among others. As always, LB remains committed to delivering the unexpected and outdoing himself with ease.

Lateef The Truth Speaker

Recorded over four months in Oakland, Lateef the Truthspeaker’s FireWire brings together some of the best producers in hip-hop on one album, including Chief Xcel, DJ Shadow, Dan the Automator, Somehow at Sea and Headnodic (Crown City Rockers, Mighty Underdogs). Bay Area stalwarts Lyrics Born, Del and The Grouch turn up as well, giving the album a congenial, familial feel.

FireWire stands as Lateef’s most musically ambitious and diverse project to date; the musical equivalent of hip-hoppers, hipsters, dance heads, R&B lovers and unapologetic pop fans all doing shots at the same party. “We The People” opens with a Kraftwerk-style intro before morphing into a New Wave track that would make Gary Numan proud. “Oakland,” a heartfelt, candid tribute to Lateef’s native city, hits with dirty funk drums, while “Left Alone” fuses Steely Dan-esque ‘70s rock with retro ‘80s drum machines. Then there’s “So Sexy” and “Inside You,” two slow jams dripping with sex that convey clever double meanings while remaining appropriate for intimate, late night listening. Inspired by everyone from Toro Y Moi to Radiohead, it’s as if Lateef found his inner Rakim, Paul Simon, Juan Atkins and R. Kelly simultaneously. "You have to make an album that you like and enjoy performing and that you like to listen to,” says the rapper.

“I wanted a name that encapsulates the organic and digital aspects of the album,” Lateef says of the title. “The album’s sonic cohesiveness comes from the marriage of the two sounds. I wanted to showcase both aspects of my versatility in terms of singing and rapping. I’m not D’Angelo or Luther Vandross, but I can definitely carry a tune.”

Throughout FireWire’s confluence of disparate styles, Lateef the Truthspeaker imbues his lyrics with an inspiring message that never relies on the preachy or didactic. Take “We the People,” a ubiquitous American phrase reconfigured for global consumption. “I wanted to write something that was anthemic and unifying,” says Lateef. “Obviously, it’s an American phrase, but the idea can be applied worldwide to show the power of unity. There’s not much that can stop a unified people.”

“Social consciousness is integral to all my work. It informs my baseline moral values, politics and my attitude toward propaganda. A lot of those values are out of favor and not as popular as they once were but I’m not afraid to tackle more difficult subject matter or stuff other people may not feel comfortable speaking on.” On the DJ Shadow-produced “Say What You Want,” for example, Lateef imagines a revenge tale born out of the real-life shooting of his cousin and the death of the shooter at the hands of another cousin.

Perhaps this mindset towards truth and consciousness was inevitable. The son of two Black Panthers – his mother was a roommate of famed activist Angela Davis – Lateef was part of an anti-apartheid group at the age of 4; the same age he first hopped on a mic. After co-founding legendary hip-hop collective SoleSides (later renamed Quannum Projects) in the early ‘90s, Lateef became an integral component in the Bay Area hip-hop scene, co-founding Latyrx (with Lyrics Born), Lateef and the Chief (with Chief Xcel) and The Mighty Underdogs (with Headnodic and Gift of Gab) and collaborating with everyone from Z-Trip to Fatboy Slim.

In the end, talent, intellect and charisma have allowed Lateef the Truthspeaker to stand on his own two feet; rising past all internal and external challenges. On “Testimony,” a 1970s AM radio track filtered through squelchy synths, the rapper’s reflective, poignant lyrics could double as an overall life mantra. "Somehow I stay smiling/Even with the world swirling with violence/’Cause while no man is an island/I’m still sole proprietor of what’s behind my eyelids."

Digg happens when the music hits just right. When you can’t help but to nod your head, gyrate your body, and you smile from ear to ear. Digg started groovin’ in Denver, Colorado in 2012 by playing a variety of styles in the vein of rock, funk, blues, and jazz that moved their souls. As shows were rocked and faces were melted, the band fused their own style of rock and funk. Digg emphasizes a melodic guitar with a ripping sax that colors beautiful harmonies over deep bass grooves sprinkled with improve solos and layers of thought-provoking lyrics. The band connects with a vast audience by soothing the eardrums and souls of people who know how to have a good time. This has allowed Digg to grow a large, dedicated family that has witnessed the band directly support acts such as George Porter Jr. of The Meters, The Main Squeeze, Orgone, Soul Rebels, The Revivalists, The Delta Saints, and Mike Dillon among others. Digg is always pushing forward as they gear-up to release their first full-length album, There Are Days, everywhere on November 20, 2015.

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