Spotlight: Mr. Lif

Venue, midnight

Spotlight: Mr. Lif

Sporting more question marks than the Riddler, Mr. Lif doesn't attempt to answer. His are hard queries. With an old-school flow, this Boston-bred MC fathoms the burdens of things that don't add up, those that do, and his I Phantom that lies between. Critical of America's education system, foreign policy, and media, the perceptive MC spews crisp punch lines that build a case for first-person propaganda by breaking down simple facts.

After a spectacular Biz 3 showcase at SXSW 02, sharing the stage with his new Def Jux labelmates Aesop Rock, El-P, and RJD2, he moved from Boston into the El-Producto studio to drop his first two albums in one year. Live at the Middle East was the war-torn, hard-drummed leadoff to the ensuing I Phantom, an analytical role-playing game starring the average insignificant spoke in the workforce wheel. On Phantom's "Live From the Plantation," Lif cynically summarizes over a cosmic beatbox the sorry state of a cyclical capitalist system:

"We're all being murdered by a similar process, whether you work at the candy store or slave at the office, the purpose of our life is to serve the economy. They misinform our minds to paint a picture of harmony, but if you're listening, you know that shit's out of tune, 'cause our life is just to work and consume."

Sometimes everything is not all good, and Mr. Lif tells it the way it is. Backed by clunky, def, bassed-out beats, he tackles hard topics, fries some big fish, and has had a huge year doing it. The Perceptionist explains.

"That which we're willing to accept every day as our task makes us who we are," explains Lif. "I thought it was time for a real critical analysis of what we all do every day, 'cause if we're unaware, then we all feel so divided that no one's willing to reach out or talk to anyone else in fear the next guy is a terrorist.

"But in reality, we're all 'Live From the Plantation.'"

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
Wednesday Interview
Wednesday Interview
Delta Spirit

Jim Caligiuri, March 20, 2015

Wednesday Picks & Sleepers
Wednesday Picks & Sleepers
First night SXSW Music recommendations and hints

March 20, 2015

More by Christopher Coletti
Phases and Stages
Ice Cube
AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, Death Certificate, The Predator, Lethal Injection (Record Review)

April 4, 2003

Phases and Stages
50 Cent
Get Rich or Die Tryin' (Record Review)

March 28, 2003

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Mr. Lif, Biz 3, Def Jux, I Phantom

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle