Lateef has a whole lot of love to give.
Firewire showcases the energy and versatility of an emcee and singer who rattles through hip hop, soul and electro-pop without pause or cause to doubt himself. Oakland has Lateef lining up with Del and The Grouch to pay tribute to “One of the few cities Bloods and Crips couldn't crack”. We The People is a stampede of bass, soul claps and affirmations. Even the obligatory slow jam (So Sexy) that so often feels like a contractual obligation on lesser albums pops with neo-soul dynamism. Throw in production credits from Dan The Automator, Blackalicious' Chief Xcel and DJ Shadow, and the whole album has a richness and depth of sound that inflates and elevates it like a hot air balloon, with Lateef breathing fire into track after track.
The confidence and familiar voice might have even longtime fans double-checking that this really is Lateef's debut solo album. “I don't wanna be lonely/I just wanna be left alone” goes the chorus on Left Alone. Firewire shows that, left to his own devices, Lateef will shine.
This week's new sets include the return of UK's Foals plus local acts Last Dinosaurs, The Snowdroppers and The Paper Kites.