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
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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.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

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Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.


In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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