Vision Board is a focused affair that found LB stretching his creativity further and challenging himself to write in a way he’s never written before. Recorded primarily in New Orleans and produced by Rob Mercurio of Galactic (who also produced 2015’s Real People and 2018’s Quite a Life), it posited him in a new environment that helped his creative juices flow even more fluidly. “There’s nothing like recording in the Crescent City. It just gets in your blood, and the results are always funky and wild.”
“This is about as psychedelic as I’ve ever been,” LB says. “I’m so proud of this album. I’m in a different space. The world is in a different space, and I wanted to celebrate that, loosen up and really create some imagery and share some emotion that I never have. I was listening to a lot of Shuggie Otis; a lot of obscure psychedelic soul and later Temptations,” he explained. “This is like if Alice in Wonderland was Japanese.” Vision Board was also inspired by another Bay Area rap luminary, although one who’s no longer with us - Gift of Gab. The dexterous Blackalicious MC and fellow Quannum Projects alum had a profound effect on Lyrics Born’s life, both creatively and philosophically. “I asked myself on some of these songs: ‘How would Gab approach them?’” he said. “I’d play with certain cadences, certain styles; I tried to stretch stylistically, lyrically and vocally on every single song. None of the patterns are the same.”
Lyrics Born’s vulnerability shines through on the nine-track effort, something he’s not ashamed to admit (nor should he be). At one point during the pandemic, he was losing one friend, peer or family member every other week - from Zumbi of Zion I to Gift of Gab to Digital Underground’s Shock G. While many of the songs are deeply introspective, he had to “write some fun shit,” too.
Celebratory horns, uptempo rhythms and fiery bars pepper the project from start to finish, and truly encapsulate Lyrics Born’s evolution of not just a groundbreaking Asian-American MC but also a human being. As the only Asian-American MC to release 10 studio albums, the first Asian-American to play major music festivals like Coachella and Lollapalooza and the first Asian-American to release a greatest hits compilation, Lyrics Born has been breaking barriers his entire life - and he’s not going to stop anytime soon. From the bombastic and tribal “I’m the Best Rapper in the World” with its self-winking boastfulness to the playful scat of “Bang Bang Bang” that slinks like an outtake from West Side Story, to the smooth and seductive “Who's The Best? (Dear Young LB)," to the psychedelic and swoony ”Alligator Boots” with it dreamy “Walk on the Wildside”-esque reverby sway, Vision Board sees Lyrics Born tackling different tones, textures and genres without fear and making them completely his own. It's an eclectic body of work that boasts more synths, more psychedelia and is generally more abstract.
1. Diamond Door feat. Princess Shaw
2. I’m The Best Rapper In The World
3. Choosy Choosy (feat. Yunoka Berry)
4. My Favorite Ghost (Phantom Pains)
(feat. Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph and Nigel Hall)
5. Bang Bang Bang
6. Who’s The Best? (Dear Young LB)
7. Go Ape Shit (feat. L-Deez & Cut Chemist)
8. Alligator Boots (feat. Say Sway)
9. Greatness on Repeat (Go Me!) (feat. D Sharp