Concerned as it is with the weighty topic of creativity vs. the American societal construct, I Phantom
, Mr. Lif's full-length studio debut, tackles more sociological issues than a senior thesis. Labelmates Vast Aire, El-P
and Aesop Rock
, along with extended family members Insight, Jean Grae and Akrobatic, each add their own flavour to the narrative mix.
Grounding their collective sound in a revamped circa-1993 style, El-P, Insight, Fakts One and Edan offer beats and scratches that perfectly match each song's varied level of intensity. I Phantom is an ambitious project that combines elements previously mined aurally in Prince Paul's proletarian hip-hopera Prince Among Thieves. Considering the intricate nature of Phantom's sequencing, it'd be hard to pinpoint any one song as the "best", but the Fakts One-produced "New Man Theme" should be required listening for all hip-hop nerds and intellectual thugs, worldwide. --Rebecca Levine