Last time the Bay Area rapper Lyrics Born (aka Tom Shimura) played in Bend, he chatted with The Bulletin beforehand about his background, primarily his time spent digging through record crates while at the University of California, Davis.
It was all that digging, Shimura said, that informed the ongoing evolution of his energetic, left-of-center hip-hop.
“I'm more of a music fan now,” he said in early 2006. “Before, I was only into hip-hop. Now, the same passion I have for hip-hop I have for (other) music. But, see, it was hip-hop that pointed me in the direction of all that stuff, because I was a digger.
“Hunting down samples, trying to become a better sample-based producer, sent me on a wild-goose chase after all these different records and all these different genres,” he continued. “And that's what opened the door for me to get involved with all the other kinds of music: trying to go beyond the surface with my love for hip-hop.”
Five years later, you can hear the fruits of that wild-goose chase on Shimura's newest album, “As U Were,” which came out last fall. It's a rap record, but only in the sense that Shimura does rap. But he also mixes in his own hook-friendly, sing-song style, and all of it is set to a bed of music rooted much more in the vibrant electro-funk of the ‘70s and ‘80s than any sort of hardcore ‘90s hip-hop.
“As U Were” is emblematic of Shimura's fiercely independent streak, as well as his commitment to pushing boundaries and rocking parties. Learn and hear more at www.lyricsborn.com.