Hailing from the West Coast’s Quannum Projects (home to DJ Shadow, Blackalicious, Tommy Guerrero, etc.) Lateef The Truthspeaker is a longtime MC with deep histories that precede him. As half of Latyrx (with Lyrics Born), half of Mighty Underdogs (with Gift Of Gab), and half of The Maroons (with Chief Xcel), there hasn’t been a shortage of work from the Oakland native. What is noteworthy is that, after all these years, all the tours, all the revered tracks, and a Grammy to boot, Lateef finally debuted with a long-awaited solo album, Firewire.
“I’m very happy with it,” he says of the new album. “I always try to keep busy but it was nice to finally focus on just my own songs.” Lateef’s focus has been what’s driven him and his crew since they were college-aged kids in the early ‘90s, known as the Solesides collective. It’s this early work that catapulted their subsequent careers, a body of work that ranks amongst the best the West has ever offered. And while “Lateef” translates as “gentle” in Arabic, Lateef the Truthspeaker is a vicious MC with a catalogue that precedes him. Here, we talk with this son of Black Panthers about work ahead in both political and musical realms, touching on some history, the time he battled Murs, the forming of Latyrx, old recordings and of course anticipated new ones.