The Bay area’s Lyrics Born has dwelled in the underground as part of the early 00’s group Latyrx and made a name for himself as a staple in the bay with solo endeavors such as Later That Day. But his latest outing finds him moving way left of the music he is known for, which may send fans for a jolt.
As U Were dives headfirst into a more experimental funk sound rather than a crate digging hip hop vibe. While it may be assumed that the departure could spell trouble for a listener, that’s not the case here. LB does a commendable job with this project that is more noteworthy for its production than its lyrical content.
Simply put, As U Were is an album built from the 1970s foundation of Parliament, grew up during the 80’s pop synth era and then warped into the new millennium. Songs such as “Coulda Woulda Shoulda” bleed an Earth, Wind and Fire vibe with its plush instrumentation and blazing horns. Elsewhere, songs like “Pushed Aside/Pulled Apart” possess a Cameo “Word Up” vibe while “I Wanna B W/U” features haunting synths reminiscent of Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me.”
The album loses steam near the end of the funky ride. Songs like “Something Better” lack the sonic punch of earlier songs while “(What Happened 2 Our) Love Affair” finds LB trapped in 80’s cheesy territory as the song sounds like a Fine Young Cannibals throwaway.
Lyrically, the album still contains the kind of introspection Lyrics Born has been known for on songs such as “I’ve Lost Myself,” which is tinged with notorious self doubt. While those sentiments are still appreciated, they are not enough to make the album great. As U Were wades in waters that border more towards the radio viable rather than being an indie rap hero which may rub listeners the wrong way. Especially when you consider the album’s running theme of not being cut from the same pop cloth as today’s radio friendly hits.
All in all, As U Were is an interesting departure for Lyrics Born. While fun and different, at times it borders on cheesy and tends to get its message a little diluted thanks to its noticeably pop direction. It’s still worth a listen, just as long as you don’t take it too seriously.
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