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AAA Music | 15 June 2019

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Lyrics Born – As U Were

| On 12, Dec 2010

It is always reassuring that party hip-hop hasn’t entirely disappeared into the world of violence and sleaze. Touting a fantastic tongue-in-cheek humour in his rap, Lyrics Born’s ‘As U Were’ is a pleasure on the tired ears. The hip-hop is cool and laid-back with funky beats and smooth sounds, a perfect accompaniment to Lyrics Born’s warm voice, and his lyrics are in possession of humour and smiles galore without a hint of irony or malice.

‘(What Happened 2 Our) Love Affair’ is a glittering gem in its own right, simultaneously lampooning and celebrating all those R&B breakup tracks with catchy choruses and a light and airy feel. Ditto with the synth-heavy love song ‘I Wanna B W/U’, a soul inflected little chart-sniper with razor-sharp wit. As for ‘Coulda Woulda Shoulda’, it is a stellar slice of horn section/bass groove driven disco funk played to the letter near and near flawless, the rap break pitched and paced fantastically.

Just to heighten this sense of knowing, affectionate fun is a semi-linear story scattered throughout, whereby Lyrics Born is a world-weary protagonist beset by enthusiastic businessmen. ‘Born-E-Ohs’ especially is a sitcom in under two minutes, with snappy scripting and acute observation.

Not even boast rap is safe from the acute eye of Lyrics Born, and ‘I’m The Best’ is a gleeful pastiche that tips into the sublimely ridiculous as it spirals into self-indulgence and overt criticism of the genre’s silliness. The relationship-drama track ‘Kontrol Phreak’ is pitched the same way, a strutting attack on a controlling lover told with a smile and sense of fun with cheesy whipcrack sounds and backing vocals crooning “all I want to do is control your life”.

However, there are moments of earnest musical effort. ‘I’ve Lost Myself’ is a smooth R&B track that has genuine heart and soul in its silken touch. Without getting to heavy, there is a sense of honesty here as the song looks at how hip-hop has essentially disappeared up itself. And in ‘Pillz’, there is a sense of genuine speaking out against the drug culture rife within hip-hop as well as America’s reliance on medication, backed up not by moralising, but by a distinctly catchy and bouncy hip-hop track crafted from fantastic layered vocals that flow effortlessly and carry well-written and smart lyrics, and an addictive synth line sweetens the deal all the more.

And just as reassurance, ‘We Live By The Beat’ is a reverb-drenched, percussive love letter to every style nodded at here, with a grin and message of love and power held in the cavernous drums, club synths and cliché female backing vocals.

‘As U Were’ can, like many self-referencial comedy ventures, begin to feel smug at points, and the constant return to lampooning relationship-orientated material can fall flat. However Lyrics Born is not merely a good sniper, but a talented artist with a real sense of warmth for the very genres he pokes fun at, and this results in a highly listenable album that works as both comedy and as musical endeavour, and can find a place in the hearts of a diverse range of listeners. Hip-hop has found its answer to Terry Pratchett and Spinal Tap, and he is a welcome voice.

Author: Katie H-Halinski