Music

Lyrics Born: Later That Day

Scott Thill

Lyrics Born

Later That Day

Label: Quannum
US Release Date: 2003-10-07
UK Release Date: 2003-10-13
Amazon
iTunes

There's a point in Lyrics Born's ambitious solo disc, Later That Day, where he calls Quannum label-mate Gift of Gab for a heart-to-heart after getting smacked down by an automated teller for not having "any fucking money". He's weary, pissed off and slightly amazed (the song he has to sit through while he's waiting on the phone is a slow R&B jam sung by his domestic partner and Quannum regular, Joyo Velarde, moaning about some "asshole" who won't let go), the banality of Everyday Life having caught up with him full-force. In LB's words, the "personal shit" has gotten to the point where he doesn't have any control over his life. By the time that his duet, "Cold Call", with Blackalicious' Gab is over, Lyrics Born (AKA Tom Shimura, once known by his Solesides fans as Asia Born), has hung up the phone on his close friend, the interruptions and annoyances having pushed him to the limit.

Although "Cold Call" is, on its surface, is a slam on telemarketers, the song nevertheless is a metafictional climax of sorts for Lyrics Born's Later That Day -- with his homies busy with various distractions business and personal, Shimura ends up alone with his frustrations, thoughts and sequencers, ready to explode at the world but still wanting to bring the real funk back into his life. That might be thinking a bit too hard about an album that, in the solid hip-hop tradition of the Solesides and Quannum collective (which counts LB, Blackalicious, Joyo, DJ Shadow and more among its membership base), just wants to rock the party and forget the troubles of daily life. But Lyrics Born has spent the last several years on his own putting this relatively diverse offering together, and it shows in every song.

Joyo and Constance Lopez pop in continually on the aptly named "Stop Complaining" to tell him to do the same. "U Ass Bank" -- a hilarious skit in the tradition of those found on the brilliant De La Soul is Dead -- shows how (financially or spiritually, it's your call) broke he is. "Love Me So Bad", a silky duet authored by both Tom and Joyo, is about how the former keeps acting "irrationally" because he's got so much "baggage". After letting out a wearied sigh, LB's acapella intro to "Before and After" offers a snapshot of a troubled mind -- "This is hard for me to write / It's difficult to express this / This is heavy on my shoulders / And the weight gets tremendous / A story of brothers in a beautiful friendship / And how relations get strained with pressure and tension," he rhymes -- cornered by the real world, where friendships come and go like colds.

It is this kind of borderline solipsism that makes Later That Day compelling; by the time, it's over, you'll be torn between also wanting to tell LB to "Stop Complaining" or bobbing your head to the bottom-heavy funk of "The Last Trumpet" (a duet with fellow Quannumite and Latyrx pal, Lateef the Truthspeaker, that sounds ominously like "Storm Warning" from the Spectrum release), the braggadocio stomp of "Pack Up", or the soul-stirring jam, "Bad Day". LB has always been capable of wielding language like an AK over crackin' beats; in fact, Later That Day features some of the Quannum crew's best, which is a feather in LB's production cap, since he basically made this thing on his own.

But it's hard to remember if he's ever been this introspective before. Although Lyrics Born has always worn his heart and mind on his sleeve, Later That Day feels like a catharsis of sorts, sometimes to the point that you just want him to get the exorcism overwith and happily move on, secure in the knowledge that he's partially responsible for the organization, administration and artistic output of indie rap's most interesting collective this side of Def Jux. After all, cats in Iraq have shit to complain about. Rap artists? Don't we hear them bitching enough as it is?

Yet LB does play it safe in the end, keeping this ship from running aground on rampant self-absorption. His rockin' turns on "Pack Up" and "Bad Day" and his high-density raps on "Love Me So Bad" and "The Last Trumpet" serve notice to a one-dimensional hip-hop landscape dominated by one-note pretenders that will be yesterday's news tomorrow. In other words, unless his friends and neighbors turn bitch and completely bail on him, the hyperskilled Lyrics Born will be here later this day, that day or whatever day, until he's too old to physically rhyme or sing anymore. In that, perhaps he can take some solace, dropping that "baggage" off at the door in the process.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

The Kinks and Their Bad-Mannered English Decency

Mark Doyles biography of the Kinks might complement a seminar in British culture. Its tone and research prove its intent to articulate social critique through music for the masses.

Music

ONO Confronts American Racial Oppression with the Incendiary 'Red Summer'

Decades after their initial formation, legendary experimentalists ONO have made an album that's topical, vital, uncomfortable, and cathartic. Red Summer is an essential documentation of the ugliness and oppression of the United States.

Film

Silent Women Filmmakers No Longer So Silent: Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers

The works of silent filmmakers Alice Guy Blaché and Julia Crawford Ivers were at risk of being forever lost. Kino Lorber offers their works on Blu-Ray. Three cheers for film historians and film restoration.

Music

Rush's 'Permanent Waves' Endures with Faultless Commercial Complexity

Forty years later, Rush's ability to strike a nearly perfect balance between mainstream invitingness and exclusory complexity is even more evident and remarkable. The progressive rock classic, Permanent Waves, is celebrating its 40th anniversary.

Music

Drum Machines? Samples? Brendan Benson Gets Contemporary with 'Dear Life'

Powerpop overlord and part-time Raconteur, Brendan Benson, grafts hip-hop beats to guitar pop on his seventh solo album, Dear Life.

Music

'Sell You Everything' Brings to Light Buzzcocks '1991 Demo LP' That Passed Under-the-Radar

Cherry Red Records' new box-set issued in memory of Pete Shelley gathers together the entire post-reunion output of the legendary Buzzcocks. Across the next week, PopMatters explores the set album-by-album. First up is The 1991 Demo LP.

Music

10 Key Tracks From the British Synthpop Boom of 1980

It's 40 years since the first explosion of electronic songs revitalized the UK charts with futuristic subject matter, DIY aesthetics, and occasionally pompous lyrics. To celebrate, here's a chronological list of those Moog-infused tracks of 1980 that had the biggest impact.

Reading Pandemics

Poe, Pandemic, and Underlying Conditions

To read Edgar Allan Poe in the time of pandemic, we need to appreciate a very different aspect of his perspective—not that of a mimetic artist but of the political economist.

Books

'Yours, Jean' Is a Perfect Mixture of Tragedy, Repressed Desire, and Poor Impulse Control

Lee Martin's Yours, Jean is a perfectly balanced and heartbreaking mix of true crime narrative and literary fiction.

Music

The 60 Best Albums of 2007

From tech house to Radiohead and Americana to indie and everything in between, the 60 best albums of 2007 included many of the 2000s' best albums.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Solitude Stands in the Window: Thoreau's 'Walden'

Henry David Thoreau's Walden as a 19th century model for 21st century COVID-19 quarantine.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Will COVID-19 Kill Movie Theaters?

Streaming services and large TV screens have really hurt movie theaters and now the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered multiplexes and arthouses. The author of The Perils of Moviegoing in America, however, is optimistic.

Gary D. Rhodes, Ph.D
Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.