Lyrics Born's 360 Degrees 

Overnight Encore, our homegrown star's new live CD, funks you right up.

Many Bay Areans have had the lucky opportunity to rocket through a two-hour set with world-acclaimed Richmond-based rapper Lyrics Born. Yet five thousand or so fans at two separate venues on two different nights in Melbourne and Sydney in late 2005 got the honor of being immortalized as part of the new live album from the Quannum Records marquee act. This week, Lyrics Born (aka the Japanese-born Tom Shimura) rocks two nights in San Francisco to plug the Halloween release of Overnight Encore, which features a tight four-piece live band, several new bonus tracks, and the energy of hordes of crazy Aussies.

Shimura says there was no time like the present to capture the drums, guitar, bass, and keys-backed show that takes his act to the next level, and that few US acts have done live albums in Australia. "I just wanted to document it, and I've always gotten a good reaction in Australia," he says. "My favorite artists have been the ones that had careers that made great live records, great videos, all the way around. You know, we saw the 360 degrees of who they were as an artist and you were impressed — specifically Curtis Mayfield, BDP, and James Brown."

With a schedule of 150 shows a year, Lyrics Born is among the hardest-working men in showbiz, and Overnight Encore captures him playing his crowd like an organ. When he launches into the funky, product-licensing-friendly "Callin' Out," and the crowd decides to go soft, he's all over their ass.

"Hold on, goddammit!" he yells. "I thought Melbourne was ready to party! If we have to do this shit a thousand times, that's what we got to do. Somebody say 'Yeah!'" At which point, the crowd goes apeshit. Same thing happens with the rendition of "Bad Dreams." The crowd dials it down from 100 percent to 95, and he stops the show to dial 'em back up. "Watching the film, I was surprised at how loud they ended up being," Shimura says. "I was like, 'Wow, these guys are going crazy.'"

Lyrics Born's energy is so palpable that it's almost a bummer his raucous two-hour sets had to be amended to make room for new songs such as "L-I-F-E" featuring Mistah F.A.B., and an "I'm Just Raw" remix with Del the Funky Homosapien and Pigeon John.

Lyrics Born will tour through November 11 before taking an Australian vacation with his wife to rest up for a new album next year. Here's hoping the next live one gets done right here in the Bay.

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