Hip-hop took a turn for the gangsta in the '90s, but it started as the outgrowth of funk--as danceable party music.
With bumping '70s-sounding beats and lyrics focusing on booty-shaking over Glock-clicking, that old vibe reigns supreme in the music of Lyrics Born. The Berkeley, Calif., MC even has a song called "Funky Hit Records."
Lyrics Born got his start at the University of California, Davis college radio station, where he moved in a circle that included other marquee hip-hop acts like Blackalicious, DJ Shadow and Gift of Gab.
And to up the party another notch, Lyrics Born abandoned sample-based music and DJs for his live act a few years back and tours with a live backing band dropping funky, funky funk.
Critics have also lauded his complex lexicon, something Lyrics Born credits to his father, Takao Shimura, a Japanese author.