Celebrating twenty-five years of staying power in the music industry, hip-hop guru, Lyrics Born releases Now Look What You’ve Done, Lyrics Born! Greatest Hits. From “I Changed My Mind” to “Balcony Beach” the collection is a pleasant trip down memory lane, taking its listeners back to the late 70’s and early 80’s when hip-hop and funk hadn’t quite divorced yet.
Though his sound is familiar, Lyrics Born was rejected at first sight, first perceived to be too out of the era, later proving to simply be ahead of it. Lyrics Born grew up in Berkley, California during the 80’s, around the time when alternative hip-hop-funk innovators such as Parliament, Sugar Hill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow, De La Soul, Raheem, and Jungle Brothers were changing music as the world knew it forever. Their influences manifest themselves most in his song, “Lady Don’t Tek No,” a tune that samples grooves and melodies from Grandmaster Flash and Sugar Hill Gang’s “The Message.” The punch-like sharpness of his lines coated with his synthetic, smooth voice makes his delivery undeniably a collage of late 60’s to early 70’s Ron Isley, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurtis Blow or any other emerging rapper of the early 80’s.
His voice is reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix, hitting high intensity, every word being on the brink of a belt, resembling the screech of a guitar most in his song, “Bad Dream,” a tune that depicts the basic, every day trials that arise while experiencing human condition. The song starts with the verses:
Woke up in the middle of the night cold sweating
Eyes stinging, no breath, legs clinging to the bedside
Hard pressed just to get a little rest every night
Same shit can't remember last time that I slept right
This situation's gotten out of control
With all this stress and confrontation I just might overload
My problems follow me to sleep at night won't let me go
The more I hide the more they thrive deep down inside of my soul
This song almost mirrors, “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and Sugar Hill Gang because of its similar chaotic narrative that builds in momentum:
Broken glass everywhere
People pissin' on the stairs, you know they just don't care
I can't take the smell, can't take the noise
Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice
Rats in the front room, roaches in the back
Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat
I tried to get away but I couldn't get far
'Cause a man with a tow truck repossessed my car
Like “Exclamation Point,” “Bad Dream” depicts the common circumstantial and trauma induced frustration that humans experience. Invokes emotion, change, and perseverance. In his tracks “Differences,” “Chest Wide Open,” and “I like it, I love it” speaks about living operating in positive and negative aspects of romantic affairs. In other songs such as “Coulda Woulda Shoulda,” “I Got It (What You Need),” “Callin Out,” and “Balcony Beach,” he not only recognizes that, so far, he has survived tumultuous times in both his personal life and career, but he also that he deserves respect for it.
Best illustrated in his song, “Real People,” Lyrics Born said his songs are about “real people,” about those who are overlooked or unfortunate, about “perseverance, surviving, turning the corner.” Now Look What You’ve Done, Lyrics Born! Greatest Hits allows its listeners not only to understand his intentions but also to wander a challenge course of emotions, letting them vividly live a life time, providing them the complete human experience within the frame of sixteen tracks.
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