The Austin Chronicle

Mr. Lif

1am, Pangaea (Also: Sat., Back Alley Social, 1am)

By Chase Hoffberger, March 20, 2009, Music

Since the December 2006 bus crash in Southern California that nearly took his life, along with those of DJ Big Wiz, the Coup, and Metro, it's been a long road back to hip-hop for Mr. Lif.

"It took awhile just to convince myself that I was actually alive – several months to firmly believe that I wasn't gonna at some point realize that I didn't survive the wreck," the Boston rapper born Jeffrey Haynes recalls. "I suffered all kinds of injuries that limited my range of motion and added to the mental impact of the situation. All the what-ifs, you know, like, 'What if the bus had gone off the embankment 30 yards up the street, which was a 100-foot drop as opposed to just 40?'"

A return to rapping for the sake of mere wordplay was never an option for Lif. His first two albums, 2002's I Phantom and 2006's Mo' Mega, demonstrated his willingness to wait until the time was right to spit what's on his mind. His muses came together in the fall when the former Def Jukie started work on I Heard It Today, an album he intended for Inauguration Day but decided to keep until April.

"With the things going on politically and economically in this era, it was too pure," Lif says of his return to the studio. "People were very excited about Obama, but it's hard for me to get as carried away as others were getting. He just represents a machine that's ultimately been detrimental to the people. He's the president of the United States. Did the global domination agenda dissolve because he became president? I don't think so.

"I'm trying to come with a very realistic sense of the current state we're living in."

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