Lyrics Born - Overnight Encore: Lyrics Born Live! Review
by Patrick Muldowney
I haven't gone to a live rap show in about 8 years, when I saw Busta Rhymes. He went on twenty minutes early, spent about 25 minutes flying through his parts of his hits, pulled down his workout pants so the ladies could see his boxers, belittled my friend, who booked him for $25,000, and quickly hopped on a flight back to New York. Nobody would want that live recording, although Busta Rhymes looks like the finest live emcee in the world when TV cameras come around. Lyrics Born, being a little less commercial, does not make his performances situational. He invests in his tours by paying a talented, 4-piece band to tour with him, and knows that his reputation, not his name, puts butts in the seat. Where many rap artists would not release a live product, because it is less impressive than the magic of the studio, Lyrics Born shows how to sell out in a positive way.
So many songs sample soul/funk/rhythm & blues, Lyrics Born should not be the exception, yet many tours feature only a deejay. The miniature P-funk band adds so much energy, the only thought more exciting than witnessing this show would be a perfect world where The Roots shared the stage. Marcus Phillips, a Bootsy Collins-type prodigy, backing Lyrics Born Live is an apt fit, since this show is about giving the crowd a memorable experience. The sold out crowds in Sidney and Melbourne are treated to live performances of songs like "Lady Don't Tek No", "Callin' Out", and "Shake It Off". His electric persona and showmanship is at its best during "Callin' Out", as LB takes advantage of the obvious excitement from the crowd once the opening note is played by getting some shoutouts, only to stop the song from kicking in to demand they get louder. It sounds like this is rehearsed, but he works the crowd like James Brown, so rehearsed is not fake here. Following with "Do That There Medley", Lyrics Born finishes the Melbourne show in a flurry, as they rap through "Do That There" with him, before he awes them, and now us, with his ability to verbalize at lightning speed.
Overnight Encore: Lyrics Born Live is definitive proof of LB's legitimacy as a rapper. Throughout his career, he has honed his knowledge and his skills in a manner which makes him a unique artist. At moments his laid back storytelling harkens back to Tone Loc or De La Soul, at other moments his ability to be emotionally self-reflective is Cee-Lo, and his periodically intense, suffocating rhymes has a little Del tha Funky, but regardless of the influences you may hear, Lyrics Born's combination of style and energy is not imitation. Simply put, this live album is better than any studio-produced hip hop out this year.
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