Latyrx (Lyrics Born + Lateef)
128 Northeast Russell Street
Portland, OR, 97212
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:30 PM
This event is 21 and over
Watch & Listen
Latyrx (Lyrics Born + Lateef)
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 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.
14 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 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. More shows, new songs including "Hardship Enterprise", which appears on Lateef's solo debut, Firewire, a mixtape (to be called Latyrical Madness Vol. 1) and, possibly, a new album.
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.
If you were to only listen to the chatter online and in the newspapers and magazines of the world, you'd likely think that the only music being made in Portland, Oregon was lovelorn folk and literate indie rock. But scratch below that surface, and you'll find a strong, vibrant underground hip-hop scene that dominates the stages and eardrums of the city for decades.
The Portland rap game couldn't stay below street level forever. Word is starting to spread about the talent the Rose City boasts, and the one name that keeps popping up on people's lips is a rapper known simply as Tope.
A good deal of that attention is due to the respect that Tope has earned for the years he's committed to the scene. Starting in his teens, he's been a fixture at local hip-hop showcases and freestyle jams. He eventually started a pair of groups, Living Proof (with Seattle-based rapper Prem) and the well-respected crew TxE with Epp and Calvin Valentine (aka G_Force). Tope has also been providing production help and dropping by for guest appearances on tracks by artists including Abstract Rude, Myka 9, TiRon, Planet Asia, Kev Brown, Scarub, LMNO, Waajeed, and many more.
As any restless and talented artist would, Tope has been stepping out on his own, releasing solo albums that have only burnished his talent even brighter. His latest effort Until The Next Time We Meet (released in March on Amigo/Amiga Records) is the culmination of all the hours he's put into honing his lyrical and production abilities, all the connections he's made, and his pure love of hip-hop.
This soulful collection features some crackling production work by Tope himself as well as Trox, Stewart Villain, Devonwho, Tony Ozier, LAWZ SPOKEN, and his TxE cohort Calvin Valentine. He connects all sides of musical personality together by inviting his bandmates Prem and Epp to drop verses on "Life Of The Party." A little R&B flavor is sprinkled in thanks to local singers Michele Wylen, Caitlin Cardier, and Reva Devito. And the whole thing is tied up tight by Tope's storming lyrical flow and witty wordplay.
Until The Next Time We Meet – and all of Tope's work to date – have helped bust open plenty of doors for the young talent. He was placed at #6 on Willamette Week's Best New Bands of 2012 list, joining the likes of Radiation City, Onuinu, and his collaborator Reva Devito, as well as #2 on The Deli Magazine's Emerging Artist List of 2011. He's also been asked to share the stage with a bevy of hip-hop greats including Talib Kweli, Dom Kennedy, Blu, Macklemore, Mac Miller, Shabazz Palaces, Dead Prez, Nappy Roots, Digable Planets, The Coup, Spaceghostpurrp and more.
Portland and the Northwest community have already shown lots of love and respect for what Tope brings to the table. Now it's time for the rest of the world to take notice.