As the 'Quannum Mcs' tour gets closer to nearing my hometown of Victoria and second home in Vancouver, I'm taking a look back at a couple of the ways this collective has shaped my ear, my musical sensibility and my love of hip-hop.
Please get after it and go see three of the best Mcs the west coast has produced in the last 20 years. Tickets for Victoria (Feb 24 at Distrik) can be found HERE. Tickets for Vancouver (Feb. 25 at Venue) can be found HERE. Both shows are early shows for us older heads to get our hip-hop on.
I was taken into my first live hip-hop show almost completely blind. A friend had convinced me that this guy we were going to see was going to blow me away. I'd only known of Lyrics Born from his guest spot on Blackalicious' “Release” (from Blazing Arrow), but my friend seemed to know what he was talking about, so I tagged along. That was 13 years ago, just a few days after my 19th birthday, when I was legally allowed into venues in BC. I'd never seen anyone hit the stage with that much energy. The small brick room was packed end-to-end and side-to-side. (I think one can safely assume the '190' or capacity was being pushed to the very limits.) Air was hot, space was sacred and no one could have cared less. Lyrics Born put on one helluva show. At the time, I didn't really know any of his music but I was moving and going crazy none the less. His energy and smile were utterly infectious. When his hands went up, ours went up. When he moved from side to to side, so did the crowd. By the end of the night, I was hooked.
At the time I didn't realize that the homie was part of the legendary duo Latyrx. I mean, I grew up on the west coast and had ears, so I'd heard “Balcony Beach” but I didn't put two and two together that night. And I knew of the previously mentioned spot on “Release,” but little else. I took to the internet to discover more, trying especially hard to find a song that hadn't left my head that I only assumed was called “Bad Dreams.” Turned out that I did indeed have the song title correct, but the album that was supposed to contain that song was still due out for release. I waited and waited. I remember going down to Ditch Records on release day to get my hands on Later That Day, an album that still finds regular rotation to this day. The sides of the CD's digipack is frayed and beaten up, but the music is no less hot than it was the first day I brought it home and blasted it on my headphones, laying on my bed. “Bad Dreams” still makes it way onto playlists. “Callin' Out” shows up when it's time to get pumped up for something. “Hot Bizness” has helped me thump my way through many walks around the city. “Do That There” still inspires solo dance parties in the basement, or kitchen, or even shower. You know, that bastion of safe dancing space, the shower?
Since that night, and the proceeding years of hip-hop goodness, Lyrics Born has been a constant fixture in my listening diet, even showing up at the least likely of times. I'll catch a clip of an LB song in an ad and I'll smile, be happy that the homie is getting paid to get his music out there. I remember a particularly annoying younger girl singing “I Changed My Mind,” and making me forget how bothered I was by her. I had friends coming up to me after seeing Lyrics Born at Rifflandia, telling me how much they loved that guy and asking if I knew anything about him. The world – well, my world at least – is better for having Lyrics Born in it. If the world was a perfect place we'd all have a bit of LB blasting from our radios, headphones, computers, whatever it is you listen to music on. His positivity and hustle are a constant source of inspiration but above all else, brother can rap his fucking ass off.