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Lyrics Born : The Kotori Interview

By JT Taylor

To many, Lyrics born is considered to be the perfect representation of the musical diversity and crossover potential in the ever-changing world of hip-hop. With the success and grounding of Quannum Projects, over ten years of rockin’ crowds worldwide, and soon to be four solo releases under his belt, LB isn't showing any sign of slowing down. To prove this, he hits us with his new joint Overnight Encore: Lyrics born LIVE!, as he spits; " ...it takes everything you got in your heart, it takes everything you got in your soul...." which just happens to be the foremost ingredient for a TRUE artist.

"It’s sort of a re-interpretation of my music in a live format. It was recorded from a couple of live shows in Australia and it’s the band and I just tryin’ to have a good time," he explains. As he raises the bar and pushes the genre to new funk-filled heights, a LB live album was only a matter of time. "All the artists I grew up loving made live albums… everybody from James Brown to Curtis Mayfield to Bob Marley to The Roots…everybody. I want people twenty years from now or even now, that when they listen to my records, they get a full, well-rounded impression of what I do and that my artistry isn’t just limited to the studio."

This cat is as cool as ice, offering a comfortable and relaxed demeanor during conversation while demanding respect in his rhyme. LB has established himself as a precision lyricist and not just an MC but a vocalist which he exhibits time and time again with his melodic verse and flawless breath control that he has developed over the years. When asked about where his left brain is headed in terms of his music, he tells us, "I want to take it to the outer reaches and I think that I’m finally on to something...I’ve finally hit my stride...I just love doing what I do."

As we come to a close, I ask LB for his final words, and like the chivalrous MC that he is, he responds with "There are never final words between us."


In the meantime, here's some of the intermediary ones:

K: So the state of hip hop today. What’s good?
LB: What I like about it is that anything goes right now. There was a time when we first started making records and people used to tell us “man, this shit isn’t even hip hop, what is this shit? and all the people on the east coast would be “oh this is west coast shit and all the people on the west coast would be “aw this is east coast shit, and now, none of that shit even matters. The thing I love is that now, anybody has just as good of a chance of “making it as anybody else. You ask 10 people what Hip Hop is now and you’ll get 10 different answers. It’s all very different from each other, so I try to be eclectic and tie so much shit in. I’m really excited about how Hip Hop is right now, it’s really encouraging. But, the other exciting part about it is that you’re not dependant on just the radio anymore. With Myspace, the internet and internet radio, Youtube, and satellite radio…I mean it’s getting to the point that no single medium is going to control music. It’s geared towards the quick spread of ideas and information and that’s great for emerging artists who were once so dependant on commercial radio and major distribution. I just wish that mainstream and the radio would reflect that diversity a little bit more.

K: True. Now give me the dirty.
LB: The result is that a lot of record stores are suffering but you can get more music than ever. It’s kinda sad and I don’t like to see it but record stores have a limited amount of space, they can only stock so many records. I love the Ma and Pop record stores and I like certain chains but I think that the brick and mortar records shops are becoming less and less necessary everyday. I don’t want to see anyone go out of business but in the world today you just gotta be flexible, you gotta be able to move.

K: With your roots being in the underground hip hop scene and as your music is currently gaining more and more notoriety, are you scared of your sound becoming “mainstream?
LB: Not at all. Quite honestly, I think it’s just a matter of time. I’ve brushed with, and flirted with mainstream success in the past, you know “Callin’ Out was the number one song here on commercial/alternative radio and has been in commercials and major movies, T.V. shows and so forth. I always new that my music could hold it’s own with any of the stuff out here, mainstream or otherwise, the only thing was that you don’t always get those opportunities.  Artists just want to connect with as many people as they can.  I’m not worried about what the rest of the market place is doin’, when I make records I take a step back, take a look at the landscape and whatever’s missing, that’s where I insert myself.

K: Hands down, you have one of the smoothest voices in hip hop which is further emphasized by your precision breath control. How do you do what you do how you do it?
LB: I liken it to being like a guitar player or a saxophonist, you just learn how to play your instrument. You learn how to play your way with your own voice to develop your own style. My voice didn’t really change till I was like 22, so as my voice changed I adjusted my style to work with it. It was kinda like picking up a new instrument.

K:  Are there any upcoming Quannum projects that you want to give us a heads up about?
LB: Well, besides the Pigeon John album that was released in September, my album which is coming out in October, Jole Volarde’s solo album, which I’m producing, is coming out early 2007.
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