Riding on the path of fate

Ben Quirk

VAIL – “Everybody’s fate is written. I do believe we all have a path. Whether we choose it or discover the path it’s there. We all have choices to make but our route is planned,” Tom Shimura, aka Lyrics Born, said.He’s a Californian progressive hip-hop innovator. Lyrics Born is expounding on his ideas of destiny. His musical journey began at a university where as a freshman he became part of a group who would inspire and drive each other on. It included members Chief Xcel and Gift of the Gab from Blackalicious, Josh Davis, aka. DJ Shadow, and Lateef, the Truth Speaker. Shimura believes that coming together of so many talented people was no accident.”My life wouldn’t be the way it is. It made all the difference in the world. It’s fate and destiny. Absolutel,” he said.

Lyrics Born has been credited with having a truly different sound from other artists in the genre. His fast smooth rhyming is the perfect outlet for his thoughtful lyrics and astute observations about current lifestyles and society. He knows that music can be very powerful.”Hip hop is probably the most influential type of music there is. No music touches people as much as hip hop. It’s a real unique genre. Jay-Z crosses over, Eminem crosses over, 50 Cents crosses over. It’s urban pop going into world pop. You don’t hear Modest Mouse or Garth Brooks in clubs. Hip hop crosses over all genres. It’s very compatible,” Shimura said.On his first album, 2003’s “Later that Day,” Lyrics Born mashed up a wide variety of musical genres and patched them behind his own words. He was at the forefront of taking hip hop new places and adding to its overall compatibility. Something he is very modest about acknowledging.”If I am to be considered one of the faces of change then I’m happy with that. I tried to blend what’s happening now. I look at the landscape, see what’s missing and insert myself there. I learn from what’s going on, I draw from it and don’t make the same music,” he said.

April 26 will see the newest release from Lyrics Born entitled, “Same !@#$ Different Day,” which features five new tracks and remixes from his first album. Shimura was keen to make it clear it wasn’t just a stop-gap release.”For most of the remixes, the songs are new music and new vocals. It was the opportunity to work with other people. Something I might not do on the next album. I like being able to learn from other artists,” Shimura said.Having known that he wanted to be a musician since his college days in the early ’90s, the proceeding 15 years have been fueled by Shimura’s desire to achieve his goals. Now tasting success with record sales and respect from his peers, he comments on where he derives his inspiration from.”Life is what really inspires me. I always try new things, as I’m the type of person who gets bored really easily. I believe I’m blessed with a gift, and I try not to squander it. It’s a gift God has given me and I have to use it,” he said.

For all the positive sides of Shimura’s life right now, there are obviously less-positive aspects as well. As a Californian and also as someone involved in the highly liberal world of art and music, Shimura is cynical of the current political regime in America. And while he was upset at the result of the last election returning George W. Bush to the Whitehouse, he was circumspect with his feelings.”My whole family is from Berkeley, Calif., and it’s a real progressive place. During the election my mom was out trying to get people to register to vote, and I played a couple of benefit gigs. “The thing is I think the whole terrorism thing is just a smoke screen. We have this elite group of ultra-rich people protecting their interest. If it’s a war on terrorism, why haven’t we found Bin Laden? Why are we strip-searching our own citizens? There’s so much hypocrisy in this nation. I try not to let it get to me, otherwise I’d go nuts. There are roofs leaking in schools in my community, yet we feel totally justified in funding these wars,” Shimura said.Lyrics Born plays 8150 tonight.

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