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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Mr. Lif
Mo' Mega
Definitive Jux

Rating: 7.5/10 ?

June 20, 2006
Come November, when ballot boxes will be stuffed and electronic voting machines will mysteriously crash, we may find ourselves aligning along the front of a political revolution. Today it seems that anyone and everyone is jumping on the critical bandwagon to judge the state of the Union - from Bruce Springstien to Eminem - and it only took five years of obvious administrative complacency and record breaking low approval ratings to get here.

While corporate label conglomerates voice their dissent with one eye on the album sales charts, politically conscious rap phenom Mr. Lif seized the opportunity afforded by massive national mismanagement to step back and display his talents - as lyrical storyteller, fast food critic, satirical comedian, father, poet, and a teenage girls PE instructor - in Mo' Mega.

Over the years the Boston-based Lif has made a name for himself in underground hip hop circles through his politically-toned musical messages and an exhaustive touring schedule, both solo as well as with Def Jux's The Perceptionists. Lif delivers a unique, soft-voiced rhythmic prose with intelligent wordplay, and he does it like no other.

Considering the comedy of blunders in the current American political landscape, one would expect a musician with Lif's background to deliver a textbook of social commentary, and Mo' Mega is sincere in the fact that it focuses on the life and conflicts of a true individual. Don't expect a dead horse to get beaten. Mr. Lif concisely places his political anguish into the pre-released single "Brothaz," effectively slamming Bush and other imperial forces with the line, "How can colonized minds lead to civilized times, maybe the tribes were harmonious, you were erroneous."

The years of long bus trips and writing rhymes on a Denny's napkins probably paid off with a slew of cleverly themed tracks and gut-busting storytelling rhymes. In the self-produced dancehall track "Washitup!" Mr. Lif educates young women on the importance and sanitation of women's hygiene.

The likelihood of Lif in a McDonalds commercial rapping into a Big Mac is slim considering my favorite drum machine track "The Fries," which makes Fast Food Nation look like a Disney movie - "The parking lot is now a burial plot, where you sit and rot, if you can find a spot."

Overshadowed by the momentous prose is the insignificant production value. It really threw me off to think that I can remember most of the lines but don't recall any of the beats after several listens. Mo' Mega's beats struggle to stand out on the album and, in a larger sense, the landscape of underground hip-hip.

Done many times before, Mr. Lif opens with the Rick Rubin influenced heavy guitar beat album intro in "Collapse" and in the soft piano ballad "For you", I couldn't help but think that the beats El Producto conducted were pre-packaged and completely detached of Mr. Lif's notebook - contradicting all the work he put into his rhymes.

The only harmonious love between the rapper and his beats was comes in a duel with a Living Legend and fellow sitcom rapper in the groove based track "Murs Iz My Manager" (produced by Edan). Also, the previously mentioned self-produced "Washitup!" has unique production values - the generic production tracks being the only elements holding Mo' Mega from becoming a classic hip-hop album.

Despite it's pitfalls, Mo' Mega has great entertainment value, especially when all your friends are over at your house, your cable's out and the conversation is just as comfortable as sitting next to "that dude" on the train.

In the landscape of cultural trends and sales-influenced politics, there is little doubt that Mr. Lif, along with his label, Def Jux, stands out. If the entertainment value is not enough to pick up Mo' Mega, the opportunity to familiarize yourself with an eventual underground legend might be.

Reviewed by Ted Nixon
A contributing writer based in Oakland, California, Ted Nixon covers hip-hop releases for LAS.

See other reviews by Ted Nixon



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