Lyrics Born

As U Were

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Lyrics Born has been around long enough, 20 years in fact, to have changed his style many times over, either gradually over the course of his many albums (solo or with Lateef as Latyrx) or with an about-face. Still, fans know that very little is going to change in Lyrics Born from one performance to another. His rapping style is always smooth and fluid (while still outré and passionate), his themes are usually overthrowing anyone who would disrespect him (or what he believes in), and fans know to expect a few spoken raps with virtually every track. As for the music, they know that deep grooves are going to figure somewhere, as well as a trad backing that bridges '70s linchpins disco, funk, and rap à la Fatback's "King Tim III" (which basically kicked off recorded hip-hop in mid-1979). He produces or co-produces every track here, getting quite a bit out of his beats and effects, and invites a host of usual suspects (his partner Joyo Velarde, Lateef, Gift of Gab), plus a few interesting detours (Francis & the Lights, Sam Sparro). Nothing is unexpected, not his righteous anger at being made to wait by a shyster label owner ("As U Were Reception"), nor his ode to love ("I Wanna B W/U"). Call it reliable or call it boring, As U Were slots into the Lyrics Born discography comfortably, as an album any hip-hop fan could enjoy, but hardly love.

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