Lyrics Born knows a thing or two about melting pots. Born in Tokyo, the East Bay MC came to prominence in a largely black hip-hop culture as one-half of the duo Latyrx, which played nearly every small club in the multicultural Bay Area in the late 1990s.
So when it came time to record his eighth album, Real People, he headed to another melting pot: New Orleans. Produced by Robert Mercurio and Ben Ellman from the band Galactic, the album bubbles with flavors from the Big Easy. A heavy backbeat-and-brass vibe runs throughout the 13 tracks, and Trombone Shorty, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Corey Glover and Ivan Neville guest on the album.
“New Orleans has a cultural history that’s different than any other city in America,” the singer told KQED when we caught up with him recently at a studio in East Oakland. “Coming from the Bay Area – where we sort of live in this confluence of strange politics and ideologies, you know, this weird cultural swirl – the first time I went to New Orleans, I was like, ‘Oh yeah, home.’”
Watch Lyrics Born and his band perform “Rock-Rock-Away” from Real People for KQED above, and read more about the album and song below. Look for a second KQED video — of the album’s title track, “Real People” — tomorrow.
What inspired you to record ‘Real People’ in New Orleans?