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LYRICS BORN (INTERVIEW) - KARMA POLICEMAN

Author: Jeremy King
Thursday, 8 September 2005
Celebrated MC LYRICS BORN holds some impressive credentials for his connection with Quannum, and with Melbourne audiences. He spoke to JEREMY KING.

There are some musicians who benefit more from print media than others. I mean let's face it, the majority of DJs and dance acts have not only spent about 20 years in their room practising but are also just big music geeks. As such print media affords them a certain level of coolness because their high pitched nasal voices are distilled into the soundless vacuum of the printed word. Then there are those rare few that you absolutely have to hear answer questions in a live format, as the written word simply just does not do them justice. Lyrics Born is one of these few. The guy just has the best damn voice. When answering questions he constantly sounds like he's half way between rapping and singing. In addition to his golden vocal chords which produce those distinct husky MC sounds, he's also a producer and MC. Lyrics Born has been on the west coast hip hop scene since the early '90s and produced some of the best hip hop to come out of the scene with the likes of Lateef The Truth Speaker, Chief Xcel and DJ Shadow. He was also instrumental in founding both the highly respected and influential Quannum and Solesides labels. Yet it wasn't until he recorded and released his first solo album Later That Day in 2004, that he really elevated his status in the hip hop world. He's toured Australia countless times and with the advent of his new remix album out in stores, he's coming back to Australia armed to the musical teeth with an amazing back catalogue and a new six piece band to help him translate it live.

Do you think that with the addition of a six piece band that your music is shifting away from hip hop and moving more into other genres of music like soul and funk-
"I don't think so. I think I'm expanding what the popular definition of hip hop may be to some people. All I'm doing is playing the hip hop records that I've made. You know what I mean. And I think that if anything it's healthy for hip hop. It's healthy to always introduce new elements. I'm not one of these guys who believes you should stay confined to any one box. I just don't believe that. I don't believe that we should draw boundaries all the time. I'm not into that at all. Just as a person I'm not into that at all. So yeah, I think it's good for hip hop."

Do you think it's easier to get a crowd going with a band, as opposed to just playing with a DJ-
"In certain ways yes and in other ways no. When it's just you and a DJ, it's one on one and there's really not a whole lot of room for misinterpretation. But when you're with a band, you have to be in synch with each other, it's as many as seven people on stage and have to be completely in synch. And that's not always easy. But the flipside is that when you're with a DJ, you can't necessarily improvise in the same way and you can't incorporate new music in quite the same way as you can with a band. So they both have their pros and cons. I have DJ things for years and I still continue to work with DJs... but I've done the DJ for 11 years and I felt that as I continue to push on as an artist, I need to continue to grow on and give myself new challenges. And the band thing was something I hadn't done yet."

So you've just put out a remix album. For someone who has a reputation for being so hands on with their music, did it bother you that this album would largely be out of your control-
"I didn't worry about that all, because I knew the people I was dealing with were extremely capable people. There is some anxiety sometimes when you hand stuff off, as you never really sure what you're going to get back. I just sort of have faith... I really believe in karma, I really believe that if you set out to do a good job, then you're going to do a good job. You know I mean. And I was very fortunate and blessed to get everybody's A-game. W
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