Thurs April 29
10 SW 3rd
In 1997, the Bay Area duo Latyrx (Lateef The Speaker and Lyrics Born) released a strange and experimental record, The Album. It was not an easy listen; it was rough, unadorned, and beat-heavy. It took listeners years to appreciate the release--and not for its beats, but for the raps, which are baroque to the point of being indecipherable. What one gets from Lateef's and Lyric Born's wrought rhymes is not the meaning of their words, but their music.
In 2003, Lyrics Born released a solo album called Later That Day. Though his raps remained musical and baroque, the beats were no longer made of concrete. Many of the tracks on Later That Day start on a hard groove but gradually break down into soft, warm tones. The same is also true for his new collection of remixes Same !@#$ Different Day. What both these records make clear is Lyrics Born's total dedication to the art of hiphop. The crafting of a track is more important to him than the clear transmission of its message.
"Hiphop at its core is about taking society's leftovers and turning it into something beautiful," explains Lyrics Born over the phone. "That is what any counter culture is about; it's crafting from the fragments, from the refuse of the mainstream. That's what's so unique about hiphop; it's made of many other types of music--rock samples, soul samples, reggae, new wave. Anything that has been neglected or forgotten is turned into something new.'"
Lyrics Born initially called himself Asia Born, but in the mid-'90s he changed the name because he didn't want to be identified as an Asian rapper. His main concern is not his ethnicity but his humanity, which is expressed through the medium of rap. "When I made Later That Day, it was important that the album was many things, that it had depth, was multidimensional, painted a picture that was broad. So I made songs on the album that are not really about anything, and made other songs that are about something, be it personal or social. Human beings do not have to be one certain thing; everyone is a work in progress."