As the first Asian-American solo rapper to perform at Lollapalooza and Coachella, and to release a greatest hits record, LYRICS BORN has broken through countless barriers to cement his illustrious career. Now, on September 14th, he will be the first Asian-American solo rapper to release a 10th album — a record of funk and soul woven into classic, boom-bap Hip Hop called Quite A Life via Mobile Home Recordings.
Quite A Life features a legendary line-up of guest musicians, including the heavily buzzing artist Aloe Blacc(“Brooklyn In the Summer”, “I Need a Dollar”, Avicii’s “Wake Me Up”), Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Gift of Gab (of Blackalicious), Galactic, and Chali 2na (of Jurassic 5). LB comments, “Aloe was incredible. I’ve known him for 20 years and watching his career develop has been super inspiring. I couldn’t have asked for a better line-up – I’m very thankful to all of them and am here whenever they need me.”
Quite A Life also embraces and ruminates on the hurdles that have followed Lyrics Born through his life and career — Asian-American representation in the entertainment industry, the responsibility of men to help correct social imbalance, the massive complications and emotional strain that follow a loved ones cancer diagnoses, and even defining what it means to be a “Blue Collar Artist”.
“Ten albums is a lot for any artist, let alone a career, indie artist who always colored outside the lines,” says Lyrics Born. “Because Asian-Americans are perhaps the most underrepresented ethnic group in show business, I have had almost no footsteps to follow in over the years. This is why I’m so honored to be one of the emergent among us to be able to co-create that legacy. I don’t want it to be as difficult for others that look like me, whose names end in vowels like me, as it has been for myself. I’m just appreciative there was always somehow a path for me, no matter how impossible it seemed, either on paper or in practice. We have greatness to contribute to the world, and we’re finally seeing breakthroughs.”
Lyrics Born kicks off the album with a funk driven party earworm “Chocolate Cake”, flaunting the influence from New Orleans where the majority of the album was recorded. He keeps the energy high though the empowering “Don’t Quit Your Daydream”, which chronicles the trials and tribulations of being a professional musician and the extra hurdles that arise for Asian-Americans in the music industry. Later, the grooving “In Case Of Fire“, co-written with David Shaw from the Revivalists and featuring both Kelly Finnigan from Monophonics and Galactic, dives the album deeper into it’s 70’s funk roots.
In the second half of the album, Lyrics Born adds an impassioned cover of James Brown’s “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”donning the reworked title “This Is A Man’s World?” and new lyrics that bring the message to relevance in 2018. He demonstrates that you can love an artist while still understanding that their ideas don’t always age gracefully. “No one is a bigger James Brown fan than me. The song is a classic, but the message needed updating. I love using the third verse as a bulletin board for posting what requires correction in the world, because unfortunately it’s usually one of us men who’s created the imbalance. We as men need to take responsibility for our roles, and make the necessary moves toward change wherever and whenever we have the power to.”
In the later half of the record comes an incredibly blunt and emotional track called “Can’t Lose My Joy” (Featuring Aloe Blacc) where Lyrics Born discusses the intense complications that came with his wife, hip-hop and soul singer Joyo Velarde’s cancer diagnosis.
This was by far the hardest song I’ve ever written in my career.. I had a very hard time opening up about the concept with Aloe Blacc, and when he sent me the chorus he wrote and recorded, I just cried. He captured my feelings so accurately, it floored me. I, like the majority of Americans, have a loved one that deals with cancer or another terminal illness on a daily basis. We are blessed to be in remission now, but with that demon looming, you are never totally at ease in life. Seeing it thru successfully gives you the confidence that no obstacle is insurmountable when you have spiritual grounding, love and support from the people that matter to you. If nothing else, that is what I want people to take away from this song. Hope.”
The track also hits on the flaws of US healthcare and the difficulties they can create for what he calls a “Blue Collar Artist”. “I think that as Recording Artists, because we are fortunate enough to follow our calling, and we are so adept at self-marketing and imaging, there is a myth that we are billionaires, who live trouble-free, extravagant lives,” explains Lyrics Born. “The truth is, the majority of us get up every day and go to work because we have to, just like most Americans, with no guarantee that our next song, album, or tour will be a success. We face the same obstacles and uncertainty that all working people face, and our fortunes can rise and fall equally as fast. Quite A Life, indeed…”
In addition to establishing himself among the upper echelon of indie Hip Hop artists, LB has expanded his empire into film. This year, he has roles in Boots Riley’s Sorry To Bother You and the Netflix film Always Be My Maybe starring comedian Ali Wong, Randall Park (Fresh Off The Boat) and Keanu Reeves.
“I’m funny, or so I’m told [laughs],” LB says.“I absolutely love comedy and being ridiculous. These past couple films have been an incredible experience. I’m especially proud to be a part of films that challenge norms and it doesn’t hurt to work with your friends either.”
Jul 28 Art & Soul Oakland Oakland CA
Aug 18 Star City Music Festival Brisbane CA
Sep 14 Moroccan Lounge Los Angeles CA
Sep 15 Cornerstone Berkeley CA
Sep 20 Bossanova Ballroom Portland OR
Sep 21 Nectar Lounge Seattle WA
Sep 22 Biltmore Cabaret Vancouver BC
Sep 23 Wild Buffalo Bellingham WA
Sep 25 Craggy Range Whitefish MT
Sep 26 Top Hat Lounge Missoula MT
Sep 28 Hodi’s Half Note Fort Collins CO
Sep 29 Cervantes’ Other Side Denver CO
Nov 2 MilkBoy Philadelphia PA
Nov 3 Mercury Lounge New York NY
Nov 4 Asbury Lanes Asbury Park NJ
Nov 8 Asheville Music Hall Asheville NC
Nov 9 Motorco Music Hall Durham NC
Nov 10 Venkman’s Atlanta GA