Lyrics Born Opens Up About His 10th Solo Album, "Quite a Life": "I’m Forced to Dig Deeper Every Year"
Legendary funk-soul rapper Lyrics Born is no stranger to the hard work it takes to continuously break barriers and set expectations with his unique sound. From becoming the first Asian-American solo rapper to release a greatest hits record and perform at Lollapalooza and Coachella, Lyrics Born has certainly earned the title of his upcoming 10th album, Quite A Life. The release, which will also mark Lyrics Born as the first Asian-American solo rapper to release a 10th album, is a landmark for the hardworking artist. By partnering with Aloe Blacc, Gift of Gab, Galactic and more, Lyrics Born has crafted a massive release that not only breaks down boundaries between genres but also touches on some incredibly personal lyrical content.
Although Lyrics Born has had one hell of a year already, it seems that he is just getting started, with Quite A Life arriving on September 14th. We recently caught up with him to talk about the album, his 25 years in music and plans for the future.
Interview by Dom Vigil
2018 has been an insane year for you so far, with countless tour dates and festival appearances, including Enchanted Forest and Lightning in a Bottle. What has been the highlight of your year so far?
I think just the culmination of everything has been amazing. From completing and dropping my 10th album, Quite A Life, to re-issuing the most seminal and classic albums of my career, to seeing my film career in Boots Riley's "Sorry To Bother You" and Randall Park and Ali Wong's "Always Be My Maybe" come into fruition... I couldn't have asked for a better year.
You’re gearing up to release your new album, Quite A Life in September! What are you most excited for fans to hear on this release?
I want them to see that I'm still growing and having fun, and so should we all. I still pursue music with passion and exuberance, and after having made so many albums, I'm forced to dig deeper every year. I love the challenge.
Quite A Life is a landmark album for you, as it marks your 10th solo album! Looking back at your career so far, did you ever imagine that you’d end up where you are now? Is it surreal to be releasing your 10th album?
It is a little bit surreal, but that was always my plan. I realize now that on paper the prospect of an independent Asian American rapper making 10 albums over 25 years, and having success probably looked crazy, but that's how much I love what I do.
What goals did you have in mind when you first started working on Quite A Life? What stories did you want to tell with this release?
I definitely had a bucket list of issues that I wanted to address on this album. Whether it was my wife, Joyo Velarde struggling with cancer while our young careers were on the upswing on "Cant Lose My Joy", to my challenges in this industry as an Asian-American in "Don't Quit Your Daydream", to trying new and different textures musically and vocally on "Clap Your Hands".
Quite A Life features some heavy and serious lyrical content, from Asian-American representation in the entertainment industry and men’s responsibility to help social imbalance to some more personal songs. What do you hope your fans take away from these songs?
Awareness and Inspiration. I feel like people don't understand the struggle we as Asian Americans face in the entertainment industry, despite in some cases having genius-level talent. It has been tremendously challenging throughout my career not having the footsteps of successful Asians to follow in, and having to create that roadmap. The beautiful part is that although we may not have the cultural or business resources or leverage in this industry, we can still excel and succeed.
What was the most challenging thing about working on Quite A Life? The most rewarding?
The most challenging part for me creatively was breaking new ground. With over 200 published songs in my catalog, its hard not to repeat yourself. Achieving that was great. Being here 25yrs later as a professional is great. Continuing to be inspired and having a self-sufficient platform of my own to express that is beyond a blessing.
The album also features some incredible musical guests like Aloe Blacc, Gift of Gab and Galatic. What were these friends and fellow musicians able to bring to the table on this release?
Their genius. Plain and simple. When Aloe sent that chorus for "Can't Lose My Joy" back to me I cried. I still have a hard time getting thru that song, and its among the top 5 I've made in my career. Gab was the first rapper I ever met in person that blew me away. He still is an incredible inspiration to me .
With the album out soon, you’ll also be heading out on some tour dates this fall! What can fans expect from these upcoming shows?
Full band, full catalog, new album. It's gonna be crazy bringing this album and a body of work spanning many years to life on stage I can't wait.
Do you have any other big plans for the rest of 2018?
I'll be more movies and Television. Things I can't discuss at the moment, but it's looking insane.