Lyrics Born can go ‘Everywhere at Once’


NEW YORK (Billboard) — During the writing and recording of his new disc, “Everywhere at Once,” Bay Area rapper/producer Lyrics Born found himself constantly going head-to-head with a demanding coach: himself.

“The only thing constant in this world is change,” he said. “So what I said to myself was, ‘How can I change, how can I still be relevant, how can I function in today’s music world and have the attention of the people, yet still be able to bring that lyricism to it?’ That was the challenge with this record.”

Born Tom Shimura and one of the founding members of the Bay Area’s seminal Quannum Projects label and roster, Lyrics Born addressed that challenge in recording his new set, due April 22 on Anti-. The 18-track “Everywhere at Once” maintains the rapper’s gift for firing off tommy-gun rhymes with deceptive ease.

Following up 2003’s “Later That Day” and its attendant remix record, 2005’s “Same !@#& Different Day,” he went into the writing process with the philosophy that he’d do “what nobody else is doing — or at least what I haven’t done before. (The record is) funky, it’s soulful, it rocks, it’s hip-hop. There’s a really broad range of issues and emotions being covered.”

The rapper is downplaying his label shift to Anti-, saying that Quannum had a distribution deal with the label several years ago. “It’s really no different,” he said. “I still make the records I want to make, still work with the people that I always worked with. I’ve always said I didn’t care if I came out on a major or on an indie, as long as I could make the records I want to make.”

Key to the new album was the speed with which it was created. “I’ve been in the situation, back in the day, where you take two years to make a record, and you kind of dwell on things a little bit too much,” Lyrics Born said. “I don’t like to do that. I like to write a record, record it, listen to it, mix, print, done. It takes a while to learn how to get into that zone.”

He also had to learn to work with a live band. Lyrics Born’s 2006 live effort, “Overnite Encore,” featured members of his band, a conceit that carried over into the sample-free new record.

“That was my next challenge, something I hadn’t done yet,” he said. “I thought, ‘I can’t really call myself a producer until I’m able to do that.’ And I did that. The biggest thing was that I wanted to write my own material, write my own melodies and lines, and (having a band) was the next logical step for me.”


About Jeff Vrabel

My writing has appeared in GQ, Men’s Health, Success, the Washington Post, the official, Indianapolis Monthly, Billboard, Modern Bride and more. View all posts by Jeff Vrabel

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