Spring is in full swing, which means those of us living in areas with seasonal weather (i.e., not L.A. or Miami) are feeling that unmistakable rush of regeneration. Like the flowers blooming in our yards, the legs of fine young ladies are sprouting from their shorts, and the new Lyrics Born record is a suitable soundtrack for the increased ogling you’ll be doing in the coming weeks.
Throughout his career, LB has pioneered a unique version of funk rap, using tongue-twisting rhyme patterns and over the top, often giddy production. The mood on Everywhere at Once is similar to the euphoric works of his past, which might be attributed to the warm Cali breeze he endures year round. Lucky bastard.
The lead single “I Like It, I Love It” picks up where “Callin Out” left off, employing a massive bass line and Cali-bounce percussion. P Funk-inspired synths are sprinkled throughout, setting a familiar foundation for LB to channel his inner-Bootsy. Does he keep sequined knee-high boots in the vocal booth for tracks like this?
“Cakewalk” maintains the high-energy on Everywhere at Once. The machine gun 808 bass and hand claps have been used hundreds of times in hip hop, but LB’s revival of the Bay Area party-funk sound breathes new life into the formula. The instrumental could get passed for a classic Eugene Blackwell gem, but Trackademiks take the production credit on this one.
Sometimes LB’s funkiness is too carefree, like on “Top Shelf” which combines an acoustic guitar riff with a two-step dancehall riddim. This kind of genre crossbreeding should be reserved for Santana albums that appeal to middle-aged soccer moms who don’t know any better.
“Do U Buy It” is another example of genre-splicing gone wrong. LB attempts to tackle social grievances, a noble cause indeed, but the 80s new wave influence of hand claps, electric guitar and synths, makes it impossible to take him seriously, let alone concentrate on the compelling lyrics. This could be handy for DJ’s though, if you are stuck trying to transition from Devo to King Tee.
“Rules Were Made To Be Broken” maintains the Quannum funk-hop trademark, and LB slithers throughout the beat at varying speeds. “Is It the Skin I’m In” is tailor made for cruising the boulevard with the windows down, while possibly blowing something in the wind.
Everywhere At Once is Lyrics Born’s most introspective record thus far, and he continues to raise the bar in the funky hip hop sub-genre. The absence of cameos from label-mates Lateef and Gift of Gab is upsetting, but LB proves he can rock solo on 18 tracks. Fans of the Quannum label will be pleased with LB’s growth, and plenty of these tracks could upgrade that summertime mixtape you’re working on. – Chris Seeger
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