Related Artists


Talib Kweli

Handsome Boy Modeling School

The Coup



Jurassic 5

Sage Francis

Aesop Rock


Lyrics Born Biography

Home > Music > L > Lyrics Born > Biography

Birth Name: Tsutomu Shimura
Birth Place: Berkeley, California, United States
Years Active: 1992 - present
Genres: Hip Hop, Pop, Rock, Funk

Lyrics Born (born Tsutomu “Tom” Shimura), is a Japanese American rapper, record producer, songwriter, and voice over announcer. He is also one half of the group Latyrx with Lateef the Truthspeaker. Lyrics Born began his hip hop career while at college at the University of California, Davis, where he was a DJ at the college station KDVS. He is a founding member of the seminal, independent record label, Quannum Projects. He came up with fellow Bay Area and UC Davis companions Gift of Gab, and Chief Xcel of Blackalicious, Lateef the Truthspeaker, DJ Shadow, Joseph Patel, and Jeff Chang (formerly known as DJ Zen). He changed his stage name from Asia Born to Lyrics Born in 1995 citing the desire to have his career based on his merits as opposed to his ethnicity.

In 1993, Lyrics Born released his first single “Send Them,” under the moniker “Asia Born,” on the independent record label Solesides. In 1996 he formed the group Latyrx, with Solesides label mate and fellow Bay-Area native, Lateef The Truthspeaker.

In 1997 Latyrx released the influential album, “Latyrx-The Album.” The album was well-received and is often regarded as a classic within underground circles. One year later Solesides was disbanded and reformed as the current Quannum Projects label. In 1999, to commemorate the transformation of Solesides to Quannum, the label released “Quannum Spectrum,” a label compilation executive-produced by Lyrics Born. The album spawned the international hit single, “I Changed My Mind.”

Lyrics Born released his first solo LP on Quannum Projects, “Later That Day,” in October 2003, which spawned the hit single, “Callin' Out.” The album featured guests such as Cut Chemist of Jurassic 5, Gift of Gab, Lateef the Truthspeaker and Born's wife Joyo Velarde. In April 2005, he released a remix album, “Same !@#$ Different Day” which was again released on his own Quannum Projects label. Also in 2005, Born released “The Lyrics Born Variety Show: Season One.”

Early in 2005, Lyrics Born replaced his usual DJ, D-Sharp with a live band. The original band consisted of versed Bay Area musicians Kevin Choice (keys, vox), B'nai Rebelfront (guitar, vox), Darius Minaee (drums) and Uriah Duffy (bass, vox). Over the years the line-up has also consisted of other various musicians including bassist Marcus Phillips, drummer Thomas McCree and keyboardists Mike Blankenship and Kat Ouano of fellow Bay Area group Crown City Rockers.

In 2006, he released “The Lyrics Born Variety Show: Season Two” album mixed by DJ Enki, comprised once again of remixes, guest appearances, collaborations and exclusive material.

Lyrics Born's first live album “Overnite Encore: Lyrics Born LIVE” was released in October 2006. It was recorded in Australia and featured his backing band, as well as three new bonus studio tracks including the hit song “Knock Knock.” The album featured artists such as Mistah F.A.B., Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Pigeon John and Tim “Herb” Alexander of Primus.

His third mixtape, “The Lyrics Born Variety Show: Season Three,” featured guest appearances by Chali 2na of Jurassic 5, The Gift of Gab, Lateef the Truthspeaker, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, Joyo Velarde, Jake One, Pigeon John and more, and was released in February 2008.

Lyrics Born released his second full-length studio album, “Everywhere at Once” in April 2008 on Epitaph/Anti- Records. The album was his first studio release to integrate members of his live band instead of primarily sample-based loops. The record also featured Chali 2na of Jurassic 5, Joyo Velarde, C-Holiday, DJ D-Sharp, Myron Glasper and hip-hop producers Jake One and Trackademicks who co-produced some of the album's tracks.

In March 2009 Lyrics Born released “Funky Hit Records,” the first single off of his album, “As U Were” which followed in October 2010. Lyrics Born released a fourth mixtape in his hit franchise, “The Lyrics Born Variety Show: Season Four,” featuring collaborations, remixes, exclusives and special guests. Released in 2009, it featured artists such as Kasabian, Soulico, Dosmoccos, Joyo Velarde, J-Boogie and more.