“I promise you I didn’t do this on purpose.”
Sophomore psychology major and independent musician Lyric Rains-Bury, also known mononymously as Lyric, says to me in reference to his outfit — a red-tinted shirt plastered with a baby picture of himself with his name on the sleeves.
“I really just wanted to match with the rest of the red vibe I was feeling today,” he said.
He also makes a point to call out how his anime-decorated walls are “weird,” and how I should divert my attention elsewhere. My eyes jumped to an endless mound of caffeinated beverages that seemed to have accumulated on the floor.
As braggadocious and larger-than-life as Lyric presents himself in both his fashion choices and music stylings, he could not be more different in person.
The musician and Miami University student hails from Goshen, Ohio, a small town an hour outside of Oxford.
“We have corn,” Lyric said. “If you’re feeling crazy, you can go to a McDonald’s.”
Goshen is also predominantly white, and Lyric has struggled growing up there and being “triracial.” He is of Korean, Cherokee and Norwegian descent and struggled to feel like he belonged in a place where he dealt with racist jokes from peers.
“I’ve been told I look like just a different-looking white person,” Lyric said. “You could count the people of color [in Goshen] on one hand.”
Lyric’s fashion choices are best described as bold — a marked difference from the style trends in Goshen. He detailed a time when he wore a golden-glittery leopard tracksuit, a fur hat and sunglasses in high school. Some kids came up to him and made fun of his “lame excuse” for facial hair.
“Of all the things [they saw],” Lyric said, “it was almost endearing to me.”
This frustration with his surroundings caused Lyric to turn to artistic expression at an early age, something he’d been surrounded by his whole life.
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His father is primarily an auto body artist that works on motorcycles and his mother is a cartoonist.
Third grade is the earliest memory Lyric has of being recognized for writing poetry. His teachers and parents encouraged him to develop his skills.
However, once he reached high school, he was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) which prevented him from totally focusing on art over his academics.
“It helped that [my OCD] forced me to focus on my work,” Lyric said. “But it got to the point where I couldn’t really focus on my art.”
He kept his musical aspirations alive by joining the pep band where he played the drum. It was his time performing for the pep band when he first experimented writing ‘poetry’ for the sheet music he had to practice.
“Poetry wasn’t a medium that was salient,” Lyric said. “Nor was it something that was going to be widespread or attain mass appeal. I wanted to make the music behind the poetry.”
After teaching himself how to use GarageBand on his iPad, he produced and wrote a song, “Flex Mix,” that he decided to debut in his high school talent show. His performance was met with extremely positive reception from his peers and their parents.
“It wasn’t pity applause,” Lyric said. “It was actual support. That feeling just kind of resonated in my soul hole, you know? It made me want to keep doing music.”
First-year marketing major and Lyric’s girlfriend Vanessa Hickcox also cites the talent show as a moment where she saw Lyric blossom.
“All of his [music] was satirical,” Hickcox said, “but you could see that there was talent there. In his stage presence and everything, there was something more there.”
When he came to Miami, he started to take himself a little more seriously as an artist. He started to branch out, go to open mics and perform at small gigs. Lyric describes his music as “loosely alternative hip-hop and pop” that “employs themes that vary between arrogance and depressive introspection.” He aims to “combine mainstream appeal with deeper topics.”
His main musical influences are Frank Ocean, Kanye West, OutKast and Tyler, the Creator. He also cites Timbaland and Missy Elliott’s work with Aaliyah as inspiration for his forays in music production.
As for style inspirations, Lyric cites early Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Prince and most importantly, his mom.
“My philosophy is that if it looked good to me for the first ten seconds,” Lyric said, “I’m probably going to wear it.”
This past J-term, his friend in the Navy gave Lyric and his girlfriend an opportunity to visit him in Tokyo, and his experiences in Japan inspired his new album “Lyric Goes to Tokyo!”
The album was primarily recorded in his Etheridge dorm and his room back in Goshen. He has never recorded in a studio. He records in his “free time,” which is usually around 2 or 3 a.m. He produced the entirety of the album and drew the cover art himself.
“I don’t want to tell people to check out my album,” Lyric said. “Or that I’m a 20-year-old up and coming rapper. I’d rather have my fashion speak for me. If anyone ever sees an advertisement of mine, nine times out of ten I didn’t post it.”
His dad, Jason, takes up the marketing helm of his son’s music by paying for ads on YouTube, helping produce music videos and spreading the word on social media.
Sophomore political science major and friend Nathaniel Ike explains that Lyric’s humility isn’t an act, it’s the real deal.
“I’ve never heard Lyric say anything overtly prideful,” Ike said. “He is very down-to-earth for a man that is 6’5’’.”
Lyric plans to pursue his music career as far as it gets him, but he still plans to finish out school.
“Even if my music did take off,” Lyric said, “I would still want to get my Ph.D [in industrial/organizational psychology] just to say I did it so I don’t feel like I wasted my time here.”