Same place, different year
Lyrics Born kicks off Chico State semester
Summer is finally over and in celebration of a new semester Chico State’s A.S. Presents brought Bay Area rapper Lyrics Born to town. The annual inaugural free concert in the Rose Garden is for many a social event as much it is a chance to see touring music acts. Undaunted by the initially distracted crowd, Lyrics Born ripped through a greatest-hits set of material off of his solo LP (Later That Day), his recent remix album (Same !@#$ Different Day), and some older Solesides material. The lyricist’s positive demeanor and insistence on audience participation slowly garnered the crowd’s attention.
Appearing without a DJ and fronting a live band was a new look for the rapper. The excellent four-piece band had no problems recreating and embellishing upon Lyrics Born’s original beats. Each band member modestly found the spotlight to show off his musical chops while keeping the rhythm steady.
Lyrics’ wife, vocalist Joyo Velarde, also accompanied him onstage. With a vocal style reminiscent of Chaka Khan, Velarde provided the soulful vocal accompaniment that has become a trademark of Lyrics Born’s sound.
Lyrics Born is a charismatic and talented rapper. He is capable going from a singsong delivery to a regular speaking voice naturally and effortlessly within a few lyrics. Unfortunately, the booming bass coming from the stacks of speakers that book-ended the stage shrouded his more subtle vocal dynamics. But his more straightforward raps, like “Calling Out” and “I Get Raw,” really hit in the hips and got the people up front dancing.
The highlight of the concert was, “Love Me So Bad.” The slow funk groove turned into a struggle between partners. The lyrics are a discourse about the love that drives the married couple apart. As the two vocalists stared at each other, Lyrics rapped a chorus that intertwined with his wife’s melodic plea and dispersed through the crowd as the sun began to set on the warm evening. It was enough to give me the chills.