» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Quannum Projects

Rating: 10/10 ?

February 14, 2005
Quannum Project is HOT, and I'm not just talking warm-hot, I'm talking about when you brush the pan and immediately get a blister - the kind of hot that doesn't matter how fast your reflexes are, you are getting burned. Quannum has managed to capture that.

A number of years ago, Quannum introduced the world to wonders of DJ Shadow to Blackalicious, and to the lesser known but equally great Latyrx. That's not a bad track record. More recently, Quannum has been turning up the heat by releasing excellent solo albums by Latyrx co-conspirator Lyrics Born and Blackalicious' appropriately named MC, the Gift of Gab. Now Quannum has basically outdone itself as it introduces us to a new collaboration, entitled Maroons.

Ambush is the collaborative effort of Lateef the Truth Speaker - the other half of Latyrx - and Chief Excel, beat monger extraordinaire of Blackalicious. These two put on something of a show throughout the duration of Ambush, Lateef's fluid delivery is unmatched and Xcel's beats are fierce yet organic. The combination is damn near lethal.

Ambush sets its best foot forward at it leads off with its title track: an absolutely bouncing number of heavy drums and bass, organ and flute. Lateef chimes in with his slightly gravelly delivery and dead-on flow, "Gather all my followers/Gather, Rally round/Listen to the drummer talking, listen to the sound." "Ambush" stomps on as Lateef spits rhyme after fiery rhyme, before Xcel breaks down the mix with a flute solo and picks things back up.

"Matter of Time" opens with trumpets as Lateef turns up his intensity - "If" may very be the best protest song of 2004. Chief Xcel backs off the heavy beat for a more soul-influenced feel, but don't think that the beat doesn't punch, because it does. Meanwhile Lateef takes his rhymes and goes straight after President Bush for stealing an election and going to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Despite any possible arguments with his point of view, Lateef is impressive, as he doesn't break his rhyme scheme or flow to pull his punches.

Ambush walks the fine line between organic soul driven hip-hop and heavier dance oriented hip-hop in a way that meshes the best of both styles. "Don't Stop" is reminiscent of Nia-era Blackalicious in its hesitant beat and lush chorus break downs. Lateef's delivery is understated and smooth as a baby's behind. Things pick back up with "Lester Hayes," a tribute to the Oakland Raider legend and Lateef is again spitting fire. The Gift of Gab makes his appearance on "Best of Me" and dives straight in with a mind-blowingly quick rhyme before settling into his easygoing flow and stressing his enunciation. Ambush boils down to 38 minutes of hip-hop bliss.

Lateef the Truth Speaker and Chief Xcel are definitely on the same page and seeing eye-to-eye on Ambush. As Xcel's beats dance from heavy to soulful and back again, Lateef's delivery matches in step and never falters. The energy never lets up; it is immediately felt throughout the run time of Ambush. This is an album created by two artists that have complete control of their art; Maroons push their beats in the exactly right places and back off with ease before hammering the bass line home again.

Lyrics Born wrote to Lateef in his Later That Day… liner notes, making it known that when Lateef worked out his solo album, Latyrx would reform. Given the excellence of both of their albums, let's hope it's soon.

Reviewed by Craig Mertes
Craig lives, works and listens to music in the general vicinity of Orlando, Florida, where he absorbs everything from hip-hop to indie, pop, rock, punk and metal. His all time favs include Hum, Clutch, Dismemberment Plan, and the Reverend Horton Heat. The last we heard, Craig was spinning Vast Aire, Soul Position, Blues Explosion, Motörhead, the Blood Brothers and Dead Meadow. Craig is also a life-long, die-hard Cubs fan, so lay off.

See other reviews by Craig Mertes



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