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Lateef the Truth Speaker
The Quickening

The Albany, Calif., label Solesides puts out some of the creamiest hip-hop blends on either shores--European or American. Solesides is known for turning influential U.K. label Mo' Wax on to Blackalicious and DJ Shadow. Rough and rugged rapper Lateef is on Solesides but bears little resemblance to either. The Quickening is thick with late-'80s groove theory: a stuttered electronic drum here, a lampin' key there. On the title track, Lateef rips his lines, heavy with metaphorical wordplay. But on The Quickening, as in most hip-hop singles, the b-side wins again. "The Wreckoning" breaks braggadocio rap down to its basics: beats and lyrics, infused with some ethereal effects tricks. "Latyrx" guest stars Lyrics Born (formerly Asia Born) in some relentless, confusing rhyme exchanges. The track eventually settles down and entertains with some third wall­destroying dub techniques. When everyone else is going futuristic, Lateef takes it back, like a Whodini or Griffey Jr. (Todd S. Inoue)

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Catherine Wheel
Like Cats and Dogs

As the cover art implies, Like Cats and Dogs is about subtle differences--subtle being the key word. The first half of the album is introspective, quiet and atonal. Sometimes the songs are too nebulous; the guitars stray too far, and the bass has a mind of its own. Oblivious, vocalist Rob Dickenson croons between lengthy guitar solos and meandering intros. "Saccharine," for example, desperately wants to be a New Age piece. The lyrics are only 24 words long, but the song lasts six minutes, beefed up by spaced-out instrumentals. The latter half of the album takes on a more melodic personality. Though the change is real, the actual transition is undetectable; the guitars still wander, and Dickenson continues to whisper-moan. But somehow, "Tongue Twisted," "Harder Than I Am," "These Four Walls" and "La La Lala La" possess a more cohesive, listener-friendly quality. Here's to subtle differences. (Bernice Yeung)

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Sacred Hoop
Bring Me the Head of Sexy Henrietta

The brutal saga continues for this Mountain View rap crew. Cutting edge? More like River's Edge. The landscape is a queasy melange of reverbed screams, deep bass and paranoia-inducing beats. A tasty nugget from L.L.'s "I Need a Beat" remix makes "No Category" addictive. "Nine Days" contains some of the most creative use of sampling at the demo-tape level I've ever heard, and "Service and Maintenance" should raise the ire of Jenny Craig (it's that fat). One suggestion to the Hoopsters: pull some cash together and lose the cassette format. If the tracks on Bring Me the Head receive the warmth and glide of a full system, and the group brings the noise on stage, I won't be the only one talking about them. (TSI)

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Rob Jarbee

New Kingdom
Paradise Don't Come Cheap

New Kingdom's new release doesn't come straight at you; rather, it snake dances just out of reach. Not that you're safe, because if you turn your back to it, Paradise Don't Come Cheap sidles up and bites you in the ass. The verbals here are so surreal, you'd think it wasn't rap at all but some ol' beastie-bouyed shit. However far out it sounds, New Kingdom's alternative universe is actually well in the tradition. The duo (Nasaj Furlow and Sebastian Laws) may not like it, but there's some Method to their madness. A quick listen to Nasaj's scarred-tonsiled vocals, and you can't help but feel it. As for the beats, the new regime comes with some extraordinary sonics. There's the blues horn section on "Mexico or Bust," which is a sneak preview of what Mingus might do if he were still on the block. "Co Pilot" is Wu sans the Clan's remorseless morbidity. For all its hair-raising shenanigans, New Kingdom's more sci-fi than sound-boy assassins. (Nicky Baxter)

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From the October 10-16, 1996 issue of Metro

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