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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Balance book knowledge with streetsmarts",
This review is from: I Phantom (Audio CD)I suggest the first listen to this is without having read the sleeve notes first, so the twists and turns of the plot are a surprise. Yes, this is a hip hop 'concept album' which really must be judged as a whole and not just a selection of tracks.
Our journey begins with traditional hip hop themes but you will find only one battle rap on this album, and even that has many unique twists. Lif deals with subjects in a way that will lead you to believe he has a very good understanding of people and the world we live in. He really does sound wiser than his years. The track 'Iron Helix' for example is an examination of cultural imperialism, with Insight rapping as indigenous, spiritual cultures and Lif crashing in as the voice of so-called 'Modernity'. An example:
Insight: Which language is that?
The final coming together of these two leads to the track 'Earthcrusher' and the fallout of 'Post-Mortem' are a timely reminder of the dangers we face these days.
Lif is adept with patterns of rhyme and the fact that he does it all while sticking to a storyline impresses me more than your average battle-rapper, who has freedom to go from one subject to another at the drop of a hat. His style is quite bleak-sounding and dark and definately fits the production, which is incredible throughout. Each track's production fits with it's subject matter so well: 'Success' by Insight *sounds* like a nervous breakdown with it's pulsing beat, 'New Man Theme' is full of optimism and energy and 'Earthcrusher' produced by Edan simply is the sound of apocalypse (I struggle to find a heavier beat!). Fakts One and fellow Def Jukies El-p and Aesop Rock also feature, among others.
I can't recommend this album highly enough. I also enjoy recommending it to people not into hip hop as it will really open their eyes to what it has to offer and where its heading in the future.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never Slacking - Still on form,
This review is from: I Phantom (Audio CD)Mr. Lif's EP Emergency Rations held some of the best Hip-Hop tracks to come out over the past year. That was until his album I Phantom was released.
Truly on Emergency Rations Mr. Lif showed he was one the best rappers out there and has proved it once again.
He lyrics rhyme with excellence over El-P's produced tracks which I would say are best of the lot. One of may favourites is 'Live From The Plantation' which puts him into a perspective we can all relate to - a 9-5 job which he hates and dreams about killing his boss. The beats on this track are also brilliant changing half way through.
An excellent album brought out by the continuing excellence of Def Jux.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the top 10 hip-hop albums of all time,
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr.Lif is seriously good.,
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent Hip Hop,
The album follows a story from the first two tracks being a nice dream to the third track "Live from the plantation" being the moment he wakes up and has to drag himself into work, the next track "The New Man Theme" is describing the happiness after quitting his job at the plantation and so on, it tackles so many issues, from guns, war, poverty, governments as we live this mans life through each chapter. Simply first class. There are a couple of tracks which whilst they are lyrically good, musically let it down hence 4/5.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dopest Artist this century ?!,
This review is from: I Phantom (Audio CD)One of the realist Hip Hop artists in the industry.
Great concept. He tells a story which changes prospectives so many time, your gonna have to ( but WANT to ) listen to this time and time again. Read though the booklet it helps.
Covers so many topics which concern us all today.
Def Jux bringing more REAL HIP HOP to the table.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This guy is brilliant,
This review is from: I Phantom (Audio CD)Mr Lif is so good.
His rhymes are intelligent and slick, the whole album is like a journey through a man's life until ulitmatley war brings destruction on the world, sounds ambtious but it's so well done and gives this CD an edge over the cars, girls, etc focus of lesser rappers. A welcome break from the main-stream.
Emergency rations is great too.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I love it,
This review is from: I Phantom (Audio CD)My God, this album is good. Its a concept album Jim, but not as we know it....
Forget all the hype over The Streets concept album (A Grand Dont Come For Free) - this is the real deal. Starts with Mr Lif dreaming, before waking up and going off to work. Then it cuts to one of his co-workers, telling the story about his failed marriage and new life and family. Then it jumps to the story of his son from the first marriage feeling abandoned, then to his daughter from the second marriage feeling stifled by too much parental love. She commits suicide, then the story follows the cop who investigates the death before a watching spirit takes over, holds a conversation with some third world tribe and starts World War III before finalizing with the last thoughts of the survivors. Whew!!!
This is an album you can listen to again and again, each time finding something new. At one point Lif threatens his boss and quits his job - a little later on, we hear him giving advice to another employee ("Don't mention me, or they'll slap you down and halve your salary"). Lif covers every spectrum of human emotion without ever becoming too preachy. The production values are amazing as well - with all the hype surrounding the likes of NERD, Dr Dre, Timbaland and Puffy you'd be forgiven for assuming they were the only prouducers working in hip-hop: not so. El-P is more than their equal, with the added benefits of not trying to overshadow the artist he's working with (a la Puff Daddy). Its not the most straight forward CD of all time (in fact theres a booklet that comes with it trying to give some timeline to the constantly inter-weaving stories) - but if you like a challenge in your rap music (and not the ever boring gangsta/hoes/bling-bling that keeps getting churned out by the ever increasing mainstream conscious labels) this is an album you NEED to get.
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