Sophisticated Slabs might draw heavy influence from hip-hops golden era, but rapper LTZ sounds anything but dated.
The north Oklahoma City emcee, born Tony LeSure, released his newest album (a 20-song effort with features from Bowlsey, Cooki Turner, Frank Black and more) Aug. 5. He performs 6 p.m. Saturday on the main stage of WestFest, Western Avenue Associations annual street fair and music festival.
The appearance also doubles as his official Sophisticated Slabs album release party. The WestFest main stage can be found on NW 41st Street between VZDs Restaurant & Bar and A Date With Iris.
The smooth, instrumental beats on songs like Warm It Up would seamlessly fit in a playlist alongside A Tribe Called Quest. Opener 73120, a tribute to the northside ZIP code, has a classic West Coast feel.
A self-admitted fan of contemporary hip-hops streaming giants Drake and Future, LTZ is an artist clearly cut from raps early 90s cloth. At the same time, Sophisticated Slabs doesnt feel aged. LTZs smart lyrics and turns of phrase make the music timeless.
The emcee said he went into Sophisticated Slabs with a chip on his shoulder after someone accused him of not being a lyrical rapper. LTZs music (most often produced by Jeff Chips Kraetzer) might be so butter-smooth and easy to listen to that some listeners fail to take in the full effect of what the rapper is saying.
Lyrically [on this album], I wanted to challenge myself on what I was going to say, LTZ said. I wanted to challenge myself to push the bar and knock out all of those things.
Though he has always been a relatable wordsmith, Sophisticated Slabs finds LTZ as real and personal as ever.
Aside from rapping, LTZ can also be found assisting young children as an elementary school mentor with a nonprofit. On the second half of the 11th track, Used Up:dePRESSUREn, the rapper talks about seeing the kids he cares about directly affected by school budget cuts. Essential supplies were no longer made available; favorite teachers could not be rehired.
Yet, at the same time, LTZs music career is at an all-time high. Internally, he struggles with how he should feel about himself and the world.
If Im happy, that makes me a jerk, he said. If Im sad, Im a jerk.
LTZ wrestles with emotions rarely touched by raps young class of mumble rappers. As a bit of an old soul, the emcee said he is not impressed with a lot of what he hears from raps newest mainstream crop.
I think its very lazily done, he said. I see all these blog posts that say, Such and such made this Top 40 beat in 10 minutes, and Im like, Yeah, it sounds like it was made in 10 minutes. It sounds like if you wanted to perform it with a band, the band would be like, We dont know what to play; these are all synth pads.
LTZ will instead continue to bank on the long-lasting appeal of raps most classic sound, the music of his fathers generation.
Why would you alienate a whole genre? he said. Why would you alienate a whole age of people? I think of it like this: If you were just selfishly doing music for money, why would you cut off a whole age bracket?
Print headline: Timeless tradition, Rapper LTZ celebrates his new album with an appearance at WestFest.