Artist: Mr. LifTitle: Mo' MegaRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jessica Dufresne
Chances are if you're not familiar with Def Jux, or prefer your rap via mainstream radio, you haven't heard of Mr. Lif. A subterranean favorite, the Beantown MC has been steadily grinding the past nine years. His most recent coup was the highly regarded Perceptionists collabo with Akrobatik last year (Black Dialogue), which was preceded by two EPs and a 2002 full-length. Now, Lif presents the well-balanced Mo' Mega (Def Jux), which combines just the right amounts of humor, political and social consciousness and sensitivity for your aural pleasure.
Lif gets personal early in the first song, "Collapse", on which he talks about the pressures of being a rapper over El-P's hard electric guitar and distant Christmas bells. That edgy, hard rock-like sound is pervasive throughout most of the tracks helmed by El Producto, lacing Mega with a futuristic-type feel, which works until you notice the songs begin sounding alike.
You won't mind that, however, on the outstanding "Brothaz" where Lif drops some serious knowledge. Bush ("The Bush administration's worth nothing..."), Clinton ("You ain't really down cause you live uptown..."), Katrina ("You ain't know those flood waters was coming/You can't smell that African blood running?"), cloning ("Evil moves to grow flesh in test tubes..."), greed ("America donâ't give a fuck about you so get off it/I'm not a prophet/They just want the profit..."), and the crisis in Darfur, Sudan all get time. Over the frantic guitar, Lif spits perhaps the most socially aware (and on point) verse yet of this year: "Darfur's in a state of emergency/It's genocide code red classified/If this was Kosovo/It'd be over bro/But it's brothers, so it equals no coverage/ More suffrage..."
Lighter fare awaits both on the production tip and lyrics with "Murs Iz My Manager", where acting as Lif's biz representative, Murs tries to get him to be more proactive in the industry hustle. The playful bounce provided by Edan evokes the feeling of late 80s/early 90s rap as Murs praises Lif for putting Kanye up to making that infamous statement about Bush so as to distract the government from true political rap. The fun continues with the PSA, "Washitup!", produced by Lif, in which he discusses hygiene in his Bajan patois.
An honorable mention goes to the finale, "For You". A poignant and alternate take on the typical ode-to-my-kids joint, Lif breaks down to his unborn seed why it's not time yet for him/her to be created. Clocking in at less than 41 minutes, Mo' Mega is a quick ride through life in the eyes of an average brother in present day America, who happens to be an ill lyricist.