Mr. Lif - I Phantom (re-issue) CD
|Original Definitive Jux CD has been out of print for years. Now re-issued by Mello Music Group!|
This release might just be the most well rounded project out of the early 2000's Def Jux products. A definite classic.
|Produced by NASA (track 1); El-P (2, 3, 8, 9, 10, 14); Edan (4); DJ Fakts One (5, 11); Insight (6, 7, 12, 13).|
|2.||A Glimpse at the Struggle|
|3.||Return of the B-Boy|
|4.||Live From the Plantation|
|5.||New Man Theme|
|7.||Status (feat. Insight)|
|8.||Success (feat. Aesop Rock)|
|11.||Friends and Neighbors|
|12.||Iron Helix (feat. Insight)|
|14.||Post Mortem (feat. El-P / Jean Grae / Akrobatik)|
The return of the working class B-Boy (5 stars)
, January 2, 2009
- See all my reviews
Obviously heavily influenced by the works of Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions; Mr. Lif can be referred to as a protest rapper. The cover of the album sums up the lyrical content nicely. The images are symbols of media, government, food, religion, law, sex, violence, and drugs. We are kept so busy with all these aspects of life, that we are left scrambling to make a standard living, therefore, the government, the people with the real power, are making all the decisions about our lives; and not necessarily in our best interest. Lif also addresses cold, soulless corporations that pay you slave wages, crappy benefits, then subsequently cuts you out of the company after years of dedication. It's about trying desperately to achieve your dreams in a rapidly decaying society. And through that desperation, people are forced to do things against their will, or simply because they know no other way. Lif wraps up all this rage, anger and concern into a beautifully crafted politically conscious masterpiece.
This album does deserve 5 stars for the lyrics alone, but the production is also phenomenal. El-P's production on this album is complicated as usual, but very old-school. I would venture to say that this is his most accessible album, production-wise. Other appearances are made by NASA, Vast Aire, Fakts One, DJ Abilities, Edan, Insight, Akrobatik, Aesop Rock, and Jean Grae are also made. "Glimpse at the Struggle" is about a man that gets shot while robbing a store, because he's got to eat, and survive another week. "Return of the B-Boy", an epic masterpiece with cuts by DJ Abilities, speaks out on the regurgitation of hip-hop, and a re-introduces the new school in underground rap. "Live From The Plantation" is probably my favorite track. If you work at a job you don't like (who doesn't?), you will definitely relate to this song. The interlude in "Handouts" relates to the next two songs brilliantly, "Status" and "Success". They're about a very ambitious recording artist (Lif) with no cash to score a quality beat from Insight. This results in poorly mixed beats. The beats are hardly poor, considering the deep meaning behind the production, making the album stronger. "Daddy Dearest", an interlude, is about Jon, a child that desperately wants his Dad to be a part of his life. But he is too wrapped up with his new son, daughter and wife, which leads into "The Now" quite nicely. "Friends and Neighbors" deals with depression, murder, and suicide, as linked incidents of snapping under pressure at the work place.
I was drawn to purchase this album because of an interview with Lif that I read. He was very intelligent and well-spoken. He has a lot to say, and a lot of different ways to say it. He has created a masterpiece on par with his idols from Public Enemy. I hope to see more of this style in the underground rap circuit. Mr. Lif continues to show that there are always innovative ways to approach and revive hip-hop in a sad time of it's commercial existence.