Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Lyrics Born

  • Later That Day . . . [Quannum Projects, 2003] A
  • Same !@#$ Different Day [Quannum Projects, 2005] A-
  • Everywhere at Once [Anti-, 2008] **
  • As U Were [Decon, 2011] ***
  • Real People [Mobile Home, 2015] *
  • Now Look What You've Done, Lyrics Born!: Greatest Hits! [Mobile Home, 2016] A

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Later That Day . . . [Quannum Projects, 2003]
See: Spellbinder. A

Same !@#$ Different Day [Quannum Projects, 2005]
Unlike most remix albums, not a fanbase-only ripoff. None of the eight remakes is inferior to the Later That Day . . . version; Evidence and KRS-One's "Pack It Up" and a funked-up "Hello" constitute clear improvements, "Do That There" piles on ridiculous rhyme, and the standout "I Changed My Mind" was a 12-inch. Nor is that all--the five new titles include a Bay Area praisesong, a motormouth "capping" dis, and just one too many showcases for LB's quasi-operatic helpmate Joyo Velarde. In short, had Later That Day . . . come second, you might well prefer this reinterpretation. A-

Everywhere at Once [Anti-, 2008]
"Hella" good rapper swears that this album he'll break out, and then, unfortunately, writes album about it ("Whispers," "Do You Buy It"). **

As U Were [Decon, 2011]
"When I was younger I/Used to wonder why/People in the public eye/Always lose their fuckin' minds/Now I'm coming up on 35/They didn't teach this shit in Berkeley High" ("Pillz," "Oh, Baby!") ***

Real People [Mobile Home, 2015]
Hold on, Tom--when we say funk, Galactic is not what we have in mind ("Around the Bend," "Real People") *

Now Look What You've Done, Lyrics Born!: Greatest Hits! [Mobile Home, 2016]
Although his albums work fine as units, this cherry-pick cements Tokyo-born rapper Tom Shimura's demographically improbable standing as--with the exception of the elusive D'Angelo, I guess--the finest trad-funk vocalist of the new century. True, he lacks the black South chocolate that would normally flavor such an offhand drawl and relaxed flow--his very male timbre is more redolent of a northern office grunt shooting the shit over a six o'clock beer. But his cadences make the music move. Shimura's true place of origin is Berkeley, which would locate his politics if he didn't believe that in hip-hop, wisecracking middle-class critical realism is ideology aplenty. Instead, his home city has nurtured in him a taste in beats that at its best recalls both Boots Riley and Too Short. It's an East Bay thing, so try to understand. A

See Also