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Lyrics Born Puts Hip-Hop Back on Its Tracks

Posted by November 24th, 2003 No Comments »

Why Do You Think They Call it Dope? – November 2003
Lyrics Born Puts Hip-Hop Back on Its Tracks
By Hal Tiffany

Stop reading this, get off the damned Internet, go to the nearest ticket outlet and ask for a ticket to Lyrics Born at Chop Suey on Monday, November 24. I don’t care if you don’t listen to funky dope music. I don’t even care if Matt B already wrote that first sentence and you couldn’t give two tear-filled indie shits about rap music. Lyrics Born’s new album, Later That Day is straight up the best rap album of 2003, and easily worthy of all-time Top 20 status. So do yourself a favor and go witness a perfect example of why this whole rap thing ain’t dead by a long shot.

“Bear in mind/I come from an era in time/where you actually had to have lyrics that rhyme” –from “Pack Up.”

Why Do You Think They Call it Dope? – November 2003
Lyrics Born Puts Hip-Hop Back on Its Tracks
By Hal Tiffany

Stop reading this, get off the damned Internet, go to the nearest ticket outlet and ask for a ticket to Lyrics Born at Chop Suey on Monday, November 24. I don’t care if you don’t listen to funky dope music. I don’t even care if Matt B already wrote that first sentence and you couldn’t give two tear-filled indie shits about rap music. Lyrics Born’s new album, Later That Day is straight up the best rap album of 2003, and easily worthy of all-time Top 20 status. So do yourself a favor and go witness a perfect example of why this whole rap thing ain’t dead by a long shot.

“Bear in mind/I come from an era in time/where you actually had to have lyrics that rhyme” –from “Pack Up”

Throughout my lifelong addiction to hip-hop, I’ve spent virtually every cent of my hard-earned Kentucky Fried paycheck on every piece of hip-hop vinyl I could get my fiendish little hands on. As a result, I was completely unfamiliar with 90% of the artists whose records I bought. Blind record binges weren’t such a bad thing back then because almost every hip-hop release on record store shelves was fresh and innovative. Times are obviously different now; fierce competition and the drone of over-funded marketing juggernauts currently dictate this style of music.

Hip-hop, which was born out of remarkable feats of DIY ingenuity and bottomless creativity, must now adhere to a formula that leaves both audience and performer bored, empty and unsatisfied. However, this music will always be about overcoming obstacles, whether the obstacle is racism, not owning a single instrument, lacking a traditional musical background, or the onslaught from the lawyer armies of the recording cartel. And now, like “the flower deep,/underneath the crowded streets,/sproutin’ in between the cracks,/screamin’ shoutin’ BABY!” (from “Callin’ Out”) comes the triumphant Later That Day.

First off, Later That Day is an Album; every track is unique, each is a great song on its own, and all are thoughtfully ordered into a coherent idea worthy of a title. I dare you to name five other rap talents not named Dan or Paul who have come close to doing that in the last ten years. Like any good art, Later That Day’s coherent idea is subject to individual interpretation.

Later That Day is a celebration of personal triumph. The dark “Bad Dreams” is burdened with the world’s unforgiving pressures, then “Rise and Shine” grapples with a sleepy craving for hiding under the covers before waking up to the clarity essential to scripting one’s own dreams. “Callin’ Out” boldly greets the day, announcing the resolve to endure the “heavy lifting and deep breathing” required to “make this shit happen right here right now.” After all, dreams don’t make themselves come true. Interludes throughout remind us that a crusade is made up of sacrifice and annoying distraction, not glamour, but complaining about it won’t get you anywhere.

“Funky fresh,” the hip-hop catch phrase of 1980-something, perfectly describes the first solo album from Tom Shimura, AKA Asia Born, AKA Lyrics Born. “Do That There” has got to be the freshest up-tempo rhyme spree since Spoonie Gee’s “Love Rap.” But don’t get your label-makers out just yet kids, because homages to old school glory days and faux-funk library samples are NOT all that’s going on within Later That Day. LTD actually picks up where rap hopped off its rails a while back. Gassed up with obese bass lines, LB’s trademark rough-but-plush singing rap, and the love of a tremendously soulful back-up singer/wife (Quannum solo artist Joyo Velarde,) Big Bad Asia is set to steam straight into hip-hop’s future. – (10/10)


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