Lateef the Truthspeaker, 'Firewire' (Quannum Projects)

Critical Mass
Release Date: November 8, 2011
Label: Quannum Projects

by Mosi Reeves

Lateef's solo debut feels like an afterthought ?following two decades of collaborations with Quannum homies Lyrics Born (as Latyrx), Chief Xcel (as the underrated Maroons), and DJ Shadow ("Mashin on the Motorway"). Firewire is chaotically sequenced, like the Bay Area rapper scoured his hard drive for usable material without checking whether the songs actually blended together logically. So the album depends ?entirely on Lateef's outsize talents: He sings and raps with equal skill, and earns the spotlight with optimistic electro-pop forays ("So Sexy," "Testimony"). Meanwhile, the unabashed pop-rock of "Only Thought" and "Left Alone" suggests he actually may love Greg Kihn as much as Too Short.

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