Hearing Every Dope Beat With Dope Voices
Wednesday March 01st 2006,
Filed under: Flavor Unit Special,Steady Bootleggin'
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Despite the fact that his classic debut single served as the inspiration for the name of his crew, Latee remains as one of the more enigmatic members of the New Jersey collective. Anyone who used to catch Kool DJ Red Alert‘s show on KISS-FM would instantly recognise the block-rocking Fatback riff and earth-shattering kick drum combo of “This Cut’s Got Flavor”, as it was a fixture of Red’s “45 King Specials” for a year before it even made it onto vinyl. The first time I heard the song on tape, it was tragically cut short – after the intro’s wailing sax – only one bar into La’s verse:

“Now for those who like sniffing, riffin’ and beefing – I’ll add the flavor, so you can sink your teeth in / Weak beats are bitter, that’s why I got ridda some crews, but that’s old news, now I’m with a…”

I lost track of how many time I rewinded that tape. 45 King’s jaw-dropping beat has to take much of the credit, but Latee’s voice was ill. Although this particular tape featured now-classic new songs from Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions and Just-Ice, it was this elusive snippet that had me fiendin’. It would be another couple of years before I actually got my hands on this record, and while the copy I found was pretty beat-up (complete with marker scribbled all over the label), it remains as one of the most prized pieces in my collection.

“No Tricks” was Latee’s second and final Wild Pitch release, driven by a JB’s guitar loop and another strong vocal performance. (Gangstarr fans will notice that the hook from “Positivity” was sourced from the accapella), while the slower “Wake Up” might sound a little dated musically, but La still delivers in the booth, covering everything from describing his dancers’ moves to how he and the crew “get [in]do’ed up, becuase the cess to me’s a relief, because we smoke the cess out the fronta leaf”, which was an unusual pro-weed stance during a time when anti-drug records were rampant (although most of them were about crack).

It would be five long years before Latee would release another song to the masses (’92’s “Brainstorm” was promo-only), this time without the help of the King, on the Roll Wit The Flava album. But stuck with an unispiring S.I.D. track and typical ’93 chant chorus, “Let Yourself Go” didn’t make much of an impression during Naughty By Nature‘s heyday.

Fast-forward another five years or so, and we’re blessed with another 45 King/Latee winner in the form of the xylophone-driven “Latee Rocks The Bells”. Originally recorded for the bootleg only Put The Funk Out There album (which mysteriously features fake Rocafella and Def Jam logos on the label), the song was later issued in a stripped-down alternative mix on 12″ by Blazin’ around 2002. To confuse matter further, La mentions “’94” before he rocks the second verse, so this was most likely recorded back then. Either way, it’s a quality cut.

Other than his music, there’s no much else I can tell you about this guy, other than the fact that he’s “about 5′ 10″, slim, never somethin’ I’m not” and he liked to sport “big blue sweatsuits”. Not much help really, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s still making music somewhere.

Latee – This Cut’s Got Flavor / Puttin’ On The Hits [Wild Pitch, 1987]

Latee – No Tricks / Wake Up [Wild Pitch, 1988]

Latee – Let Yourself Go [Roll Wit The Flava, Epic, 1993]

45 King featuring Latee – Latee Rocks The Bells (LP Version) [Put The Funk Out There, white label, 1998?]

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15 Comments so far
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good stuff again robbie..

Comment by beatlover 03.01.06 @

That 45 King lp on Roc-A-Fella is probably my most wanted lp. Is the other track he did for Jay Z on there ?

Comment by Brian Beck From Wisconsin 03.01.06 @

Now I see where Erule got the hook for `Listen Up’ from…”Listen up, lend me your ear, stop and stare”

Nice additions Rob.

Comment by End Level Boss 03.01.06 @

Yeah Jay rocks over “Stiletto”. I’ll post it in a minute…do you still have that orig. mix of Rob’s “B.L.A.C.K.”?

Comment by Robbie 03.02.06 @

Phenomenal. This guy is one of my favorite of the lesser-known late 80s rappers. It helps that he rocks over 45 King’s beats.

Comment by David 03.02.06 @

Original “b.l.a.c.k”


Original “they heard i got life” aka “time 2 ride”


Robbie..you got a full tracklisting for that 45 King/Roc promo ?

Is the Beanie Sigel joint with the bongo sample on there and is there a Queen Latifah track too ?

And please post the Hov’ song.

Comment by Brian Beck From Wisconsin 03.02.06 @

You never cease to amaze me. What more can I say…

Comment by alternate9 03.02.06 @

I still owe Rob at TSL a punishment for convincing me there was a test-press only Latee album on Wild Pitch. Bastard!

Comment by chr!s 03.03.06 @

Thanks for those Rob pieces. I’ll get that tracklisting and song up for you in the next day or so.

Comment by Robbie 03.03.06 @

You I’ve been looking forward a copy of “No Tricks” and “Wake Up” for a few years now. That’s a serious good look! Peace.

Comment by Ausar 03.04.06 @

Robbie – I think before it became “No Tricks” – 45 King had that beat on an instrumental compilation with a few extra elements to it (little organ piece, and a vocal bit, all taken from the same JBs source). Red Alert used to play it all the time when going in/out to commercial, and it was definitely more hype. You remember that and/or happen to have that somewhere?? Would love to have that instrumental version on mp3…

Comment by Mizzensch 03.06.06 @

Is this true ? the dude Chris said he owes for convincing him there is a TEST PRESS ONLY album from Latee on Wild Pitch.

Damn !! that would be nice !!! Rocks the bells( LP version) is a dope track.

Comment by D'amazin 03.07.06 @

damn, 45 King flips a Joao Donato joint (played by Cal Tjader) on Latee Rocks the Bells…..nice!!!

Comment by Audio Agent 03.14.06 @

Latee was named as a producer in the movie The Cookout which was released by Latifah and Sha-Kim a few yrs. ago. So it appears he’s “Still Rolling w/The Flava” just behind the scenes now.

Comment by Killa Chris 04.15.06 @

Understand this! Latee is the fuckin “President”, the “Founder”, and the “Creater” of the “Flavor Unit”. He was the first to make a record, perform live, and grab everybody else in the original Units attention. He was the bait! I luv you cous’on! Thanks for puttin me on!

Comment by Lord Ali Ba-Ski 09.16.06 @

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