Whereas most rappers crib samples from old funk and soul records just to chop, loop, compress, speed up, and otherwise adulterate their source material, Berkeley-raised artist Lyrics Born is all about paying tribute to his forebears. Purists seem to like LB's albums because, in many ways, they're closer to funk than rap, with the combination of electric bass riffs, acoustic drums, and rather obscure samples (obviously the work of serious beat-makers and record collectors, rather than some guy pushing buttons on a new software program), plus the soulful hooks provided by his wife Joyo Velarde, who apparently helps LB with his arrangements.
The new album Everywhere at Once is no exception. It's peppy, war-of-the-sexes number "Differences" has LB and Velarde doing a cute pas de deux over a bass-heavy funk vamp. "I'm a Phreak" is the kind of minimalist rock track that Prince would have written during his Revolution days. "Top Shelf" features a looped acoustic guitar and mildly syncopated merengue rhythm that harks back to Ozomatli. Still, most of Lyrics Born's appeal is the cleverness of his lyrics — like the oft-quoted rhyme in "Cakewalk" in which he rebukes the twelfth-grade teacher who didn't believe a Japanese rapper would ever make it, or his cute complaints about women's vanity in "Differences." LB delivers all lines in the nasally, party-jam cadence that's helped him oscillate between hip-hop and rock crowds. Granted, you have to like that rap style to like the album (I, personally, do not). But if you're already a Lyrics Born devotee, this could be the one you've been waiting for. (Anti-)
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