Q&A: Lyrics Born On Greatest Hits, Independent Music, And The End

In celebration of his ninth album, Now Look What You’ve Done, Lyrics Born! Greatest Hits, Lyrics Born took the time to speak with us about greatest hits albums, independent music, and what’s next.

This interview took place on April 15, 2016. Portions of this interview have been edited for clarity, space, and Siya rambling. 

Ben: Let’s get going, man. How you doing today?

Lyrics Born (LB): I’m doing well, man. Thank you. Today my album came out so it’s been a little hectic.

Ben: So with 25 years in the industry… What made now the right time for that greatest hits?

LB: You know…  It was just time, man. There was just so much music and so much time had gone by that I just felt like with, [this being] the 9th album, it was time. To be honest with you, I probably could have done one a little earlier and I probably should have. But it was just felt like the right time. I felt like I had done so many different kinds of albums too that it would just make more sense to a do a greatest hits album at this point.

Ben: Well that’s something I actually wanted to ask you about, because, going through your discography, each album has a very distinct sound. You play with multiple genres, jumping from funk and Motown influence to even some southwestern in there. What did you learn about your own music when you started listening and recollecting all these tracks for a greatest hits?

LB: I think that’s a really great question. For myself, it’s kind of a trip putting this all together because I’m always just so focused on tomorrow – what’s the next gig, what’s the album going to sound like, what’s the next song going to be about – and it wasn’t until I sat down and was actually forced to actually go through all these songs and forced to comb through my past, which I’m just not in the habit of doing, that I realized it was really dope man. It was really cool to see. I think one of the moments that made it so special was when I announced that I was going to do this, the flood of social media response of what songs should be on the track list, from the fans. That was really amazing. That was touching. And also admittedly, we picked from their suggestions…

Ben: Oh really, you took that social media response into account?

LB: Oh yeah! I mean, the fans basically put this track listing together.

Siya: No lie?!

LB: Yeah, which to me it should be that way…

Siya: After all, it’s a greatest hits. It’s a fan thing. Not what you think?

LB: Right, exactly! I mean, I right the songs, I record them, I put them out. But honestly it’s the fans that make them quote, unquote “hits”. You know what I mean? Once I put them out I have no control over who likes it, who hears it, who doesn’t. The fans are the ones who actually turn them into hits. So basically, whatever fans unanimously saying this song should be on there that song should be on there, that’s what we ended up putting on the album. And it was kind of difficult. It got a little heated! Continue reading Q&A: Lyrics Born On Greatest Hits, Independent Music, And The End

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Ben and Siya’s Top 5 List… OF LISTS!

Lists are dope. If only there was some simple and repeatable way to demonstrate this, an example a reader could easily follow and reference for later use…  Hmm, I’m sure we’ll think of something! There’s lots of reasons why you need nifty lists (especially to start your week, your fall, your football season, expansion of your content-fillers on your blog, or filling out your parenthesis game). But what exactly makes lists so great? Let’s make a list to demonstrate!

  1. They help organize.
  2. They break down larger concepts.
  3. They’re easy to digest.

See, wasn’t that fun? You know what’s even more fun? Making a list of LISTS. So we did that! Together we’ve compiled the undisputed (heavily disputed) Top 5 List of Lists that impact your everyday life. Our rules were simple:

  1. To qualify, an entry must be a list.
  2. All lists must be practical and have every day usage.
  3. The lists must be usable by you, the listmaker.

There were lots of lists that could have made our Top 5 List of Lists, but for one reason or another they just didn’t quite make the cut. So in their honor, here’s a few Honorable Mention Lists in a list:

The Terminator List
Very helpful if you’re an assassin cyborg from the future sent back in time to quash a human rebellion, but not so helpful if you’re just a normal dude.

Emergency Contact List
Technically doesn’t count because it’s not a list you use. It’s a list your employer digs out of your HR file when you choke on a donut during a meeting.

The Constitution
Again, great list, but it’s not a list you made, and we’ve got a lot of love for our international audience.

Your Will
A very practical list, but at the end of the day it’s just a compiling of where you want your shit to go when you’re dead. Not a very fun list!

NSA Watch List
Hello, we are good upstanding citizens who love The United States of America. Please don’t add us.

Schindler’s List
An incredible, heartbreaking film, but (hopefully) not a list humanity will ever need again.

Allergy Label List
Undoubtedly, an important list, but is it a TOP 5 list? We say no. Then again, we don’t go into anaphylactic shock anytime we accidentally consume a peanut.

The Magna Carta Holy Grail Track List
Not even a good album, TBH. But technically a list you could use. (Keyword: COULD.)

So here we are! You now know WHY lists are necessary. You also now know HOW lists are formed. You also now know WHAT does not constitute a necessary list, however noteworthy. That said, here’s the quintessential list of lists for your survival in business, health, and general human aliveness:

5.) The Bucket List* (*Ben Objects)
*[Ben’s Note: We’ll get to my objection later on, but long story short, I’m pretty sure this is just a subset of a different, more important type of list.]

This story looks familiar; black man (Morgan Freeman) explaining life-spanning concept only to be mocked by white friend (Jack Niklaws):

Kicking the bucket” is an old English idiom for different routes to death. Whether it be because there was holy water in the bucket to splash you into the afterlife, or any other explanation, this is a list of things to be done before death. The ONLY paramater is ‘before death’. So… “climb Mt. McKinley Denali” BEFORE DEATH. Visit the Pyramids… not those pyramids, the other pyramids, BEFORE DEATH. Yes, there’s other pyramids, geez, you really need to live. Might we (just Siya) suggest a “Bucket List”?

4.) The Celebrity Exception List
As seen on Friends!
Continue reading Ben and Siya’s Top 5 List… OF LISTS!

Traversing Small Town Iowa And The What Cheer Flea Market

What Cheer, Iowa is stuck in a constant population decline. In the late 1800s, What Cheer was a booming coal town with a population of over 3,200 people. By 2010, that number fell below 650. But three weekends a year, every year, that population turns back the clock, swelling back up toward its 19th century peak. Why? What Cheer’s Collectors’ Paradise Flea Market, one of the largest flea markets in the Midwest and a triannual celebration of used crap.

Now in its 39th year, What Cheer’s flea market is a sprawling web of second hand merchant shops packed into the local fairgrounds. The market truly is massive. Pop-up stands, tents, RVs, and tables encircle the ground’s dirt track, winding back through the middle of the field, spilling over into the half dozen or so show barns scattered across the grandstand area. At only $45 per dealer space, the market is an affordable place to set up shop, resulting in a juxtaposing mix of local amateurs and seasoned traveling professionals, hawking everything from furniture to action figures. Anything you can dream of you can find, in varying quality, for a negotiable price.

whatcheerfleamarket
The What Cheer fairgrounds.

The worst time to go, and the time I’ve gone most often, is the market in early August. At the summit of summer, the Midwestern heat sits on your neck like a despondent child, beating your back with fists caught in the throes of inexhaustible tantrum. The air is thick, palpable with humidity, deep breaths taken with caution less you might drown in nature’s invisible smog.

But it’s also the time that inspires a little Iowan magic, precipitating the allure of small town wanderlust. By August, the market is walled in by a fortress of towering corn, fields stretching out into infinite crop points on the horizon. With the corn high, the market feels sunken in, swallowed low like a hidden valley, an oasis of commerce tucked away in the hillsides of food fields. It’s tempting to allude to the Field of Dreams as the market is a thrift bazar on dirt paths, built and rebuilt every season specifically so they’ll come. They. The masses. The masses that shop. The masses willing to spend. The masses that built this rickety empire on the backs of fluttering George Washingtons and Abe Lincolns.

And yes, the comparison to Dysersville as corny as a lazy crop pun, but it’s also fair. There’s an enduring earnestness to small towns in Iowa, encapsulated bubbles with diluted flows of time, a specific nostalgia that runs through the blood. It’s that feeling tickling up at you when you’re surrounded by a sea of rustic and rusted farm equipment, encompassing everything from needle nose pliers to irreparably broken oil lanterns. It’s that feeling that sits heavier in the pit of your stomach once you see the towering stack of antiquated technology for sale, used Betamax players, VHS cassettes, and working 8-track tapes. It’s that feeling that bursts forth in an audible laugh when the women at the ticket counter shouts out in enthusiastic glee, “Post some photos of the market on our Facebook page!”

whatcheerscrap
A pile of rusted scrap at the What Cheer flea market.

If you go in with the wrong mentality, it’s all too easy to get washed into the tinted greys of depression lingering in the air. You’ll find yourself wandering aimlessly, overwhelmed, adrift in the dilapidated fairgrounds of second hand commerce. But if you attack the flea market with a sense of adventure, an opportunistic pride, you’ll find the experience redeeming and worth repeating. You’ll also find some really cool and weird shit!

Anyway, enough poetic waxing, here’s the awards for Best and the Worst in Show: Continue reading Traversing Small Town Iowa And The What Cheer Flea Market

Andrew Harrison, Frank Kaminsky, And What It Means To Be Called A Nigga In America

nword1

Siya
Here we go again.  Another weekend, another race debate in America. We can’t believe we have to blog this shit, but the tides of headlines forced us (maybe for the better) to release a piece we’ve been considering for a while. In a moment caught on tape (In 2015, you should always assume someone is listening), Andrew Harrison muttered “fuck dat nigga” in response to Frank Kaminsky’s perfect-season ending performance. Predictably, people got upset.  Cue the N-word discussions. Continue reading Andrew Harrison, Frank Kaminsky, And What It Means To Be Called A Nigga In America