Monday, March 26, 2012

Lateef and the Chief Present: Maroons - Ambush

There are certain record labels whose imprint on an album is an absolute assurance of quality. If you're an indie dude, that label is Sub-Pop. If you're a hip-hop fan, Quannum will never do you wrong. I own most of the Quannum catalogue and will attest to its overall high quality. Speaking of hip-hop in this manner makes me sounds pretentious, ridiculous, and irredeemably white. So yeah, my first introduction to good hip-hop (I'm not counting my early 90's fascination with MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice) was Blackalicious. Shortly after I became addicted to Blazing Arrow, Blackalicious played a free show at my college. They did a few songs from Blazing Arrow and Lateef the Truthspeaker did an awesome battle with Gift of Gab (I believe Gift of Gab won, but it was close). Anyway, I had no idea who Lateef was at the time. I just knew he was a white dude (he's white, right? All the stories tell me his parents were affiliated with The Black Panthers, but I swear he's white. None of the pictures online show him in his dreadlock phase, which is when I saw him. He was a fairly skinny dude back then, but it looks like he's beefed up and his skin is a shade or two darker. The first time I saw him, I just knew he was white. Now I'm not so sure) with some serious skills. Anyway, when I heard that Chief Xcel from Blackalicious and Lateef the Truthspeaker (who you may know from Latryx) were doing an album together, I literally could not buy it fast enough. I talked my local record store into selling it to me before it was scheduled to be released. This album (which is more of an EP in length) is exactly as good as I wanted it to be. It's full of interesting beats, strong social statements, and great rhymes. If you like Jurassic 5 or The Roots, this is an album that should be right up your awesome hip-hop alley.

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