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Lyrics Born

With Spittin' Image. Sunday, June 18, at the Grog Shop.

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Although he has only a couple of solo albums to his name, Bay Area rapper Lyrics Born has played a significant role in hip-hop history. Merely by helping found Solesides (later known as Quannum Projects) -- the label that introduced Blackalicious, DJ Shadow, and hip-hop journalist Jeff Chang -- the former Tom Shimura would have some claim to fame. And his '97 album, Latryx: The Album, a collaboration with fellow rhymer Lateef, is widely considered an underground classic.

However, Shimura -- a half-Japanese-American MC who first took the name Asia Born -- eventually came into his own. Later That Day . . . , his proper debut, drew attention in 2003 for the richness of its old-soul backing and Shimura's equally mellow vocals. Crooning as often as he raps, Lyrics Born crafts a release oozing with West Coast funk -- a sound that got his song "Callin' Out" featured in a Diet Coke ad. Two years later, the remix album Same !@#$ Different Day revisits that tune and others, with several new tracks to boot.

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