It's been five long years since the Bay Area's favorite gruff-voiced MC last graced us with a new album. Lyrics Born's emphasis on quality over quantity pays off on Everywhere at Once, which is solid from top to bottom.
Opener "Don't Change" sets a fiercely funkafied tone, as Lyrics ticks off the obstacles he's surmounted: "I was too experimental, played around too much/Because I wasn't doing all the average stuff." Above-averageness has indeed become this artist's calling card, along with his alliterative flow and preference for original music over sample loops. That said, Everywhere at Once is far less groundbreaking than 2003's Later That Day. This slicker follow-up focuses on '80s-ish funk/disco beats and uptempo party anthems — which may disappoint fans of his more left-field stuff. Still, the MC's engaging persona carries the day (with assists from songbird Joyo Velarde), as he balances sarcasm with humor and mixes braggadocio with insight. A prime example of the latter comes on "Cakewalk," where Lyrics raps, "A Japanese rapper, that'll be the day/That's what my teacher told me in the 12th grade." The theme of overcoming prejudice continues on the album's best song, "Is It the Skin I'm In?," as Lyrics imparts, "Let me tell you how I came into the game/A little child, half beige, half cream/They called me everything except for my name." By embracing his differences, Lyrics Born has not only proven his detractors wrong, he has also carved out a unique niche in the world of hip-hop.