Tsutomu “Tom” Shimura, better known by his stage name Lyrics Born, is a rapper and producer. He is one half of the duo Latyrx with Lateef the Truthspeaker.
Lyrics Born relocated to the United States from his birthplace of Toyko, Japan right around the time Hip Hop was exploding on the East Coast. From the moment he heard Sugar Hill Gang’s 1980 classic “Rapper’s Delight,” the Bay Area Hip Hop luminary knew he’d found his calling.
Twenty-five years later, LB has obliterated the stereotypes of what an MC is “supposed to” look like and captured the hearts of countless fans who gravitate to his distinctive voice. From his Quannum Projects debut with Latyrx (1997’s The Album), to 2003’s seminal solo album Later That Day, he’s consistently pushed the boundaries of his craft. From “Callin’ Out” and “I Like It, I Love It” to “I Changed My Mind” and “Coulda Woulda Shoulda,” his material has always retained a musically eclectic feel.
For live shows, LB often recruits a full band to “keep it all the way funky” for his audience. Coupled with wife/singer Joyo Velarde’s powerful voice, the unrelenting energy of his performances electrify every crowd.
Since establishing himself among the upper echelon of indie Hip Hop artists, LB has expanded his empire into film. He has appeared in films such as Boots Riley’s critically acclaimed Sorry To Bother You and the Netflix feature Always Be My Maybe starring Ali Wong, Randall Park and Keanu Reeves.
As LB continues the next chapter, he jokes that he’s become that “old stubborn Japanese man” who says what he wants and he’s not planning on going anywhere. In fact, his goal over the next 25 years is to make another 10 albums and more films. Most notably he wants to continue providing a platform for other Asian-Americans, a slice of the population that is consistently underrepresented in pop culture.
When he looks back on the last 25 years, he has nothing but gratitude for his position in the Hip Hop space and life in general. “I’m just blessed and grateful to be alive and pursuing my passion after 25 years,” LB says. “That’s mind-blowing for me when I really think about it. All the obstacles I’ve faced and accolades I’ve received, I can only be thankful.”
Check out his new album Vision Board here.