Lateef the Truth Speaker had been the first to make a name for himself beyond the Bay Area when, after a first single, "The Wreckoning", he had released the fantastic "The Quickening (The Wreckoning Part II)", by 1996. Brilliantly produced by DJ Shadow, who had enriched the raps with a bitter guitar and a few piano chords, this track had been praised by both Musik, a British magazine dedicated to electronic music, and core hip-hop publications like The Source and Rap Pages.
As for Lyrics Born - formerly known as Asia Born - he had released the very first Solesides single, "Send Them", as soon as 1993. He had then reappeared in 1996 with "Balcony Beach", which had been a quiet, smooth and nice track, where the rapper gave the feeling he had smoked too many blunts, and was seconded with the sweet voice of Joyo Velarde, a Filipino singer he would later on marry with.
In between, both rappers had began to collaborate with each other, starting with "Latyrx", the B-side of "The Quickening". On this song, produced once again by DJ Shadow, Lateef and Lyrics Born were rapping simultaneously, declaiming different lyrics, in stereo, so that you could hear a different song, depending on which side of the headphone you were listening to. And even when using both, this was still a great track. It proved how complementary the rappers were, Lateef opting for a neat and dry kind of flow, while Lyrics Born's was more suave and nonchalant.
There resided The Album's best value. Though, as a compilation of both rappers' previous work (i.e. all the singles mentioned above), it was a bit too heterogeneous, it had some key strengths: its very bold kind of beats, for sure – all produced by DJ Shadow, Blackalicious' Chief Xcel, or Lyrics Born himself – some being particularly surprising, like the electronic experimentations of "Say What" or the discotheque oriented "Muzzaper's Mix", a track full of big basses, with a catchy rhythm and some "woo woos"; but also, even more than these, the great skills and verbal agility of the rappers, both absolutely great, both clearly outstanding.