Conscious reggae-hip hop hybrid band The Late Ones are here to finish off the year with their new four-song EP, Lately, dropped via Easy Star Records on December 4th. The EP is a prominent example of the three family members staying true to their own original style, genuinely coming into their own with an incredibly strong message to back up their impactful sound. Lately is appropriately titled: “It’s a name that expresses not only the kind of year we’ve all been going through, but how The Late Ones are feeling in general. The topics we speak on are REAL and need to be addressed,” mentions the band, consisting of brothers Tui Avei and Tau Avei, along with their cousin Josh Brunson. The trio originally hail from Laie, Hawaii and are now based in Gardena, California.
‘Lately’ is an epic display of conscious reggae mixed with old-school hip hop.
The album is loaded with messages of love and togetherness, encouraging us to uplift our fellow brothers and sisters. It hits hard with powerful protest music and spot-on social commentary. The EP kicks off with the dangerously dynamic protest song “Babylon Exists”, which the Brooklyn Vegan describes as “a seamless fusion of the grooves and harmonies of mid/late 70s reggae, with the incisive bars of 90s Native Tongues-style rap.” The compelling protest anthem is a persuasive snapshot, speaking a timeless message of standing up for your rights against police brutality and social injustices. The song’s accompanying music video was filmed during the Los Angeles-based George Floyd and Breonna Taylor protests over the past summer, showing footage of the band taking part, as well as handing out mangoes to the homeless in L.A… doing their part to look out for their brothers and sisters.
The album then segues fantastically into its second track, “Brother’s Keeper”. This song is all about hope. Everything will be okay; everything will work out the way it is supposed to. “Brother’s Keeper” reminds us to always love your brother and look out for him or her, no matter the situation. The third track is “Troubled Streets”, which the band explains “is about the hard times we face in the world. Very similar to ‘Babylon Exists’, but different in its own way, because we speak on the love and hope that’s instilled in every one of us. And, that we should be spreading that love.” Leaning further toward the hip hop side of the album, the song paints a descriptive picture of a future we should all strive for.
The Late Ones bring it all home with the EP’s last track, “The Noose”: a powerfully articulated history lesson about the hundreds of years of struggle and the seemingly never-ending fight for equality. The track was premiered on Rootfire, who states it “reflects on the role and lineage of the noose in American life and is accompanied by a rhythm sharp enough to cut your actual head right off. It is fierce drum and bass, right from the get go. Deservedly so. Setting up the vehicle to carry the voice.” Also from Los Angeles, “The Noose” features Easy Star label mates. The Expanders. John Asher’s vocals and Chiquis Lozoya’s fierce bass line give the listener just a peek into the experience of being a Person of Color in America.
With the release of Lately, the guys are ready to showcase their inspired music coupled with universal messages of love and hope, while firmly and directly standing up for social, racial and economic equality for all. The band concludes, “You can look at this EP as a taste of what’s to come from our full album dropping soon. It’s a great mix of tracks that brings a solid message, smooth harmonies and verses, too.” Stay tuned for The Late Ones’ album coming in 2021 from Easy Star Records.
Purchase or stream ‘Lately’ EP:
- Babylon Exists
- Brother’s Keeper
- Troubled Streets
- The Noose
The Late Ones – “Babylon Exists” official video:
Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.