Gather, friends, and hear the story of Lyrics Born's Same !@#$ Different Day
, the remix album that was better than the original. Pull up a seat, grab some apple cider ... just don't interrupt!
Lyrics Born was one of the most talented emcees to emerge from San Francisco's Solesides/Quannum collective, the same collection of talent that brought us DJ Shadow and Blackalicious. In 1997, he formed Latyrx with Lateef the Truth Speaker and the duo made some experimental hip-hop that often gets ignored by both fans and critics. In 2003, he released his solo debut, Later That Day
, and it was pretty good, but nothing earth-shattering. In fact, considering how respected Lyrics was for his work on other projects, it was almost considered a disappointment.
Two years later, though, we got Same !@#$ Different Day
, an album of Later That Day
remixes done by a truckload of talented producers and emcees. Dan the Automator, E-40, KRS-One, Jumbo, Chief Xcel, DJ Spinna, Evidence, Lateef and, yes, DJ Shadow all make appearences here and the end result is a phenomenal hip-hop release that any fan of the genre should seek out.
And Same !@#$ Different Day
might be a remix album, but any concerns about these cuts sounding like sloppy seconds should be thrown out the window. The production (obviously) is new, some of the songs have completely new verses and Lyrics Born even did some brand new tracks for the project, so it isn't like the man went on vacation while everyone else tweaked his tracks.
Same !@#$ Different Day
opens with a quick intro and then you're smacked in the face with "Hello," a party anthem built around quick horn stabs and a thick groove. It's a solid track and the kind of album opener that lets you know you're in for something special. But before you can recover, it's time for "Pack Up," a track that features both Dilated Peoples mastermind Evidence and KRS-One. To be sure, KRS-One is the more famous of the two guest emcees, but Evidence steals the show, opening the track with a verse that sums up the history of his group, including praise they received from David Letterman. And the production on "Pack Up" is simple, but powerful, causing you to focus during the verses and nod your head during the scratch-heavy chorus. The very next track, the Dan the Automator-produced "I'm Raw" turns up the heat even more. The song's hook, a spoof of the SNL skit about self-help expert Stuart Smalley, seems a bit lame at first, but Lyrics spits his best lyrics here, specifically a verse that finds him referencing everything from WWF wrestling to the movie "Nell" ...
Lyrically y'all don't compare to me in any contest
Like a stealth bomber up against a Hyundai Accent
Tall can to a shot glass
Bong hit to a contact
Gary Coleman versus Big Boss Man
The Loch Ness Monster up against a crawdad
Talking Sly Stallone in "Rocky" versus Sly Stallone in "Copland"
Judge Judy versus Johnny Cochran, oh man!
Nell Carter versus Karen Carpenter topless
Better yet, broadband
Compared to a long-ass
Piece of string connecting two pop cans
I know I just covered four straight tracks in detail, but I promise this isn't a masked track-by-track review. The four opening songs just happen to be Same !@#$ Different Day
's four best moments. And I suppose this early greatness means the album is a bit top-heavy, but I wouldn't get so carried away as to say the thing isn't worth listening to all the way through. After all, you'd miss both the RJD2-esque "Shake it Off" and "The Last Trumpet," which reunites Lyrics with Lateef and DJ Shadow. In other words, "The Last Trumpet" is a new Latyrx track
. How can you not love that, folks"
The album also includes two "bonus tracks," one of which is a fantastic Morcheeba/Capricorn II remix of "Stop Complaining." The song's production includes a bluesy electric guitar and it is one of the finer moments on the album. Why is it a "bonus track" and not just part of Same !@#$ Different Day
" Well, I don't know. But it's real, real good, that I do
Along the way on Same !@#$ Different Day
, there are a few songs that will make you want to skip ahead to the next track. "I Can't Wait For Your Love (Limited Time Offer)," for instance, is like old school r&b sans the excitement. And "The Bay," one of the album's songs that isn't a remix at all, just misses altogether. But that is really about it. Same !@#$ Different Day
isn't going to change the world or anything, but this is the genre often called "independent hip-hop" at its best. If you like well-produced hip-hop that features great rhyming and is rarely repetitive, I suggest you track it down.