“Shit is about to transcend and transform, and we gotta hold onto our roots and understand the purpose and reasons we have been who we were.”
– Latasha Alcindor, “What’s Next”
Perhaps the purpose of Brooklyn-based rhymer/spoken word artist Latasha Alcindor’s trials is so she could chronicle and make sense of them on her latest EP, Teen Nite at Empire, which was released today independently. Of the album, Alcindor has stated, “I think if I tapped back into the music I grew up loving and let the spirit of that music flow through me, I might resurrect the essence in a new way.”
That essence radiates throughout the free-wheeling project, which at times emulates the golden years of New York sound collagists such as Bomb Squad and Prince Paul with the manner in which arrangements rapidly shift throughout the proceedings. “Don’t Be Mad” warps through a spoken word intro into dancehall percussion and ultimately an 808-fueled interpolation of DMX’s “Get At Me Dog.” Though latter songs like “Glo Up” and “Hotness” are ripe for heated skating rink sessions, the ambitious production prevalent throughout the first half of the project is one of it’s highlights.
It’s as if the constantly evolving melodies reflect the constantly-moving state of being a New Yorker.
L.A. matches the production by waxing on the good and bad of her city throughout the project, most notably on “Ol’ BK Soul,” a spirited boombap collaboration with fellow Brooklynite Radamiz in which the two reflect on how perils such as seeing the Towers fall and having drug addicts soliciting oral sex has shaped their worldview.
The vocal intensity displayed on “Ol’ BK Soul” is carried throughout the 13-track project, as Alcindor tackles spirituality (“What’s Next”), scandalous men (“Revoke Thee”), and half-ass MCs with the same resolve. “I believe that love stops apocalypse but I know that these niggas be on Romanus Pontifex,” she cleverly rhymes on “Practice on the Q Train,” a song about how she’d rather be focusing on her mini-script then feeding a man’s indulgence, especially when “n—s from Coney Island ain’t too sane.”
On “Affirming:Life” LA raps about “moving feline in this Truman Show”, and speaks on police brutality before promising, “ancestors on the phone like we comin’ dog.” She seamlessly weaves through social commentary, introspective reflection and big uppin’ her own skills, delivering a balanced, adventurous work that pays homage to the entirety of her NYC upbringing but sounds refreshingly modern.
Teen Nite at Empire is available for purchase at all major digital retailers. You can stream here.