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Interview - Lyrics Born

Author: Andy E
Tuesday, 1 April 2008
To many hip-hop artists, their best album is simply their latest album and proclaiming there's nothing else like it on Earth is another way of saying it'll be released soon.

But US rapper Lyrics Born isn't prone to overstatement. His new album Everywhere at Once is a dazzling showcase of lyrical and songwriting talent - it's the musings of an artist who has already seized his goals and is thinking about his legacy.

"The songs are what lasts," he says. "In the past, maybe I was trying to prove that I was an incredible rapper or a great producer but this time, it's less about that and more about writing the best songs I can. I think this is the best thing I've ever made.

"I can honestly say there's nothing else like it on the planet."

And with the success of his 2003 chart-topper Later That Day, hip-hop heads around the nation are breathlessly awaiting its April 19 release, with the debut single I Like It, I Love It already shooting to the top of triple j's playlist. To LB, this comes as no surprise.

"I already know I'm in the top five per cent when it comes to rapping. I want to be in the top five per cent of songwriters.

"Then, I want to be top one per cent. Without a doubt."

Everywhere at Once sounds like an artist having fun and extending his ability, just because he can. Peppered with collaborations with artists such as RJD2, Baby James and wife Joyo Velarde, the sound is spacious and lovingly produced and the influences range from old-skool funk to reggae, punk and beyond.

From the uber-funky opener Hot 2 Deff with J-5's Chali 2na to the raw emotion and striking delivery of Whispers, the album really is everywhere at once, which makes sense coming from an artist who averages 150 shows a year.

"I get bored really easily. I can't just write the same songs over and over again," he says. "That's not what makes me tick. My goal is to enter uncharted territory."

According to the big man the standout track Whispers, with its complex layering and haunting strings, was about as uncharted as territory can get. Written to mourn the death of close friend Ben Davis, the song is so raw LB "can't even listen to it."

"B just meant so much to me," he says. "He was the person who got me in to hip-hop. We were best friends for over 20 years and it was important for me to celebrate that. Deciding to write it was hard, but once I decided to go ahead I got it out in about 20 minutes."

But it's not all raw emotion. The arse-shaking party-starter Differences will have the guys and gals squaring off with its unique take on the battlefield we call relationships. It was written and performed with his emcee wife Joyo, but LB freely admits he took one for the team by having it on the album at all.

"Joyo didn't want me to put that track on but I know for a fact I'm not the only guy who deals with what's on the track so I was just like 'no, this shit is coming out'. I got into a bit of trouble for that but trust me, she airs me out quite a bit herself."

But in case you're thinking LB is all work and no play, the skit Sneaker Hoes Anonymous will set you straight. LB has a shoe fetish that would make Imelda Marcos turn to moccasins and he isn't afraid to embrace it.

"You know, it starts from within," he laughs. "I could have bought a new house by now and I must have to just to store all these shoes. But hey, everyone's gotta have a hobby, baby. If you don't know me by my raps, you know me by my shoes."

Everywhere at Once is out on April 19