For the last five years the hip-hop artist Lyrics Born has been paying his dues in the underground scene by working extensively with giants of the field such as DJ Shadow, Gift of Gab, Jurassic 5, Lateef and Quannum. He is now poised to break into mainstream consciousness with his new solo album titled “Everywhere at Once,” which will hit shelves on April 22nd.
Upon first listen, it’s obvious that this is not the typical mainstream rap album. Blending unique and varied lyrical flows and subjects with eclectic production ethics, the overall sound ends up being something that is reminiscent to albums released in the heady days of hip-hop in the late eighties. Times when rules about what constituted rap or hip-hop were not so rigid and formulaic and artists were free to explore more free-formed styles.
Production on the album blends vast musical styles into a single, sometimes overwhelming, package. Most of the album has a Funk and R’B feel, but is peppered with rock-metal guitar riffs, synthpop flourishes and dancehall rhythm sensibilities. Beats are lively and strong, making this a fantastic party album, especially when coupled with the upbeat, positive lyrics that mark the majority of the numbers.
Because of the musical intricacy and depth, this is not an album that can be judged quickly on a couple of listens. This album demands lots of repetition to allow one’s head to fully get around the scope of what is going on in their ear and to fully appreciate the experimental nature offered. Make no mistake, “Everywhere at Once” is a breath of fresh air that is long overdue in both underground hip-hop and mainstream rap.
While it will take brave ears to appreciate this album, it is difficult to anticipate which camp this album will alienate more-traditional hip-hop purists or the bandwagon crew who follows every single sad trend in mainstream rap with dogged tenacity. Ironically, the scene that will be most interested in this album is likely the dance crowd, due its energetic and lively rhythms and patterns.
In fact, one of the few criticisms I have of this album is that is gets a bit poppy and cloying at times, but this is a hard complaint to register with such an ambitiously experimental project.
This is not something I would recommend to just anyone, but I do urge everyone to open their minds a bit and track it down for a listen, if for no other reason than to see what hip-hop can be when the rules are thrown out the window and creativity is allowed to thrive.
In the end, “Everywhere at Once” might be the most interesting fusion of various urban music types that I have heard, albeit but not the most immediately appealing.