WPTS From the Vault
From the Vault: Lyrics Born – As U Were
By: Timotheus G. Hinton
Welcome to “From the Vault”, a column where we express our thoughts on an older album, all while taking a look back at a previous review of that album from one of our past contributors. After doing some deep digging through the vast archive of music here at WPTS, we found an album and review that is a great pick for this month’s edition: Lyrics Born’s third studio album, As U Were. But before we get into our thoughts, let’s take a quick look at a previous review of it.
“This CD is the intersection between funk, electronica, and hip-hop. Most of the album is spent trying to imitate other groups’ styles. The collab with Francis and the Lights features a cool glitch chorus, but the deep Tone-Loc-ish rapping isn’t too great.” – 11/9/2010
Let’s get right to it: this album is pretty solid. It’s not the worst thing you’ve ever heard, but it’s not the best either. I don’t think that “imitate” is the correct word to describe what Lyrics Born does on this LP, but he certainly drew inspiration from other artists for this release and emulates their respective sounds quite a bit. Almost every track sounds like something that we’ve heard from a different artist before. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, as Born knows what to do with the well-produced works and where to take them. It’s just that nothing is ear-popping or a definite standout on this when I’ve heard others make tracks that are way better than anything that Born does here. That being said, I still enjoyed this album and may even revisit quite a few of the tracks here for a little bit.
The highlight of As U Were is the transitions between songs. This is first heard from the very beginning of the album, as Lyrics Born makes an awesome-sounding, smooth transition from the opener “Kontrol Phreak” to its successor, “I Wanna B W/U.” While these tracks might not the best, the energy and feeling that they provide is enough to keep listeners interested. Another cool moment is the transition between “Pushed Aside/Pulled Apart” and “Oh, baby!” Not only is the set-up with the production fantastic at this quick spot, but the way Born takes one line and flow at the end of “Pushed Aside/Pulled Apart” and uses it in the next track is fantastic. The transitions help highlight the effort that Born placed into how the album would be structured while also adding more substance to the project as a whole.
There are some pretty good songs scattered all around the album as well. I say scattered because that’s what the album is. It gets off to a decent start with the first three tracks, but none of them are particularly memorable. It’s not until we get to the fourth track “Coulda Woulda Shoulda” where things really start to click. The song is a fantastic funk composition that can hang with the best of funk records. Born rides the beat, synths, and 808’s like a classic MC. The sad thing is that after this track, Born gives the listener a string of mediocre to complete snooze-fests of songs. The cheesy lyrics and rapping style (similar to what’s stated above) are what hold lots of them back, while others are just all-around awful. As U Were continues this trend of inconsistency for the remainder of the album. Other noteworthy tracks include “Oh, Baby!”, “Black Bots”, and “Pillz” while other duds include “I’m the Best (Funk Fresh in the Flesh)” and “Something Better.”
As a whole, As U Were is a fun release. The lyrics aren’t ridiculously deep, and the sounds are awesome to groove to. Plus, the interludes are pretty entertaining and are one of the best parts of the album. If you can get by the fact that lots of the tracks sound very familiar (“Kontrol Phreak” sounds just like something Cee-Lo Green would’ve put together and “I Wanna Be W/U” sounds like a lost demo from Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds), you’ll have a great time listening to it.