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Lions Roar : March 2013
BORN I MUSIC HIP-HOP SMOOTH AS HONEY—ON A RAZOR’S EDGE PHOTOBYCHRISCARR “Sex, music, and religion—those things are in constant interac- tion in my songs,” says rapper/producer Born I Music. “There’s a dharma-piece in everything I do.” What he’s doing right now is getting ready to release a new album, King of Kings. “On one hand,” says Born about the album’s title, “it’s an egotistical statement about what I feel my position will be when the project drops. But it also has to do with the mind. In my music, you’ll hear competing impulses from the sensory worlds: ‘This feels good. This looks good.’ These are like feudal lords battling for our awareness, our primordial, fundamental mind. In the end, I believe our natural awareness or awake-ness is the real king.” The ego/awareness dichotomy is present in all that Born does, and that’s no accident. “I’m a Buddhist artist and I don’t want to sugarcoat things. But I’m also in the rap world, which has its Buddha Not “Buddha”: While most hip-hop instances of namechecking “the Buddha” are run-of-the-mill marijuana refer- ences, you’ll find traces of actual Buddhist thought in songs by the Wu-Tang Clan and its mastermind, The RZA. Most notably, “Life Changes,” from Wu-Tang’s Eight Diagrams LP, includes a recitation, in Mandarin, of the Heart Sutra. And while we may have lost him last year, the pro-Tibet, pro-Buddhist work of Beastie Boy Adam “MCA” Yauch endures. Its most succinct statement is Yauch’s track “Bodhisattva Vow,” from the Beasties’ Ill Communication. See also: Sixtoo’s The Psyche Intangible, a great 1996 album exhibiting dharmic influences, and, more recently, Macklemore’s “Vipassana” single. trappings: material things, status. They’re sticky and sweet, and we’re hardwired to be attracted to them. I’m going to be hon- est about that, but I also know that materialism by itself is like honey on a razor’s edge. That’s important on the dharma path, if we want to lead ourselves to genuine happiness.” Born feels that such genuine happiness is something every- one should have, and he gives his time in several ways, including teaching meditation to kids. He also thinks his music can inspire an oft-ignored contingent. “I want to reach out to the audience that’s reached out to the least—those who are rejected as a ‘crim- inal element’ or outcasts. I want to tell them, ‘I’m right there with you. We’re all in this life together.’ ” Judging by his excellent Tomorrow Is Today LP, his album with the rap duo Shambhala, and his 2012 single “Number One,” Bor n’s King of Kings should deliver. SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2013 63