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Lyrics Born - Later That Day

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Artist: Lyrics Born

Album: Later That Day

Label: Quannum Projects

Review date: Jan. 27, 2004

It’s a case of the chicken and the egg syndrome – the name Lyrics Born. Listening to Tom Shimura’s first solo effort on the San Francisco-based Quannum Projects label, one begins to wonder if the lyrical content spewing forth from Later That Day… is born from the musings of a man intent on preserving hip-hop’s dignity or if he is merely a vessel through which these lyrics spring forth. Either way, this Tokyo-born MC previously known as Asia Born has staked his claim in the hip-hop canon.

Shimura struck a chord with fellow beat lovers as a freshman at UC Davis, and helped create a collective that would be called Solesides. The lineup included Josh Davis, who the world has come to know as DJ Shadow, Chief Xcel and Gift of Gab who later formed Blackalicious, and Lateef the Truth Speaker. The fellas flocked to the college radio station in hopes of filling a void for urban music. What came out of these years was a collaborative album between LB and Lateef with some help from DJ Shadow called Latryx The Album. It went on to sell well beyond their local-based support crew and blew up Solesides as an up-and-coming label and eventually morphed into Quannum.

With the force of all of this genius and dedication behind him, Lyrics Born burst onto the scene once again in 2003, this time with his first solo project and executive producer credits. Funk-infused backdrops lay down the template for the album. Solid vocal support from Joyo Verlarde and Constance Lopez rivals the sway of chanteuse Martina on Tricky’s early albums. Wise, confidant lyrics tell stories of strained friendships, maxed-out bank accounts, soul-sucking jobs, war rhetoric, and island love to name but a few. Later That Day’s infectious anthem and first single, “Callin’ Out,” features Tommy Guerrero dropping some low-end spice. Side step right into the next track, a hysterical skit called “U Ass Bank” that is not your typical (read: vapid) hip-hop interlude. “Do That There,” synchronizes LB’s seemingly breathless flow and DJ Cut Chemist’s flawless beat structures. Shimura shows off what he calls his “em-singing” abilities on “Bad Dreams,” a song that explores the darker side of our subconscious nature. The song also introduces Born’s DJ of choice, D-Sharp, who shows off his scratching skills – an assemblage of sound channeling the mind’s indecision in a moment of crisis.

Later That Day’s cover art might sum the album up best of all. With a collage of social interactions, cultural landmarks and colorful urban imagery, this album beautifully weaves both stories and music that can not only satisfy, but also inspire the most discerning of ears.

By Emily Huffman

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