Mr. Lif, Boston emcee, Mello Music Group artist and one third of The Perceptionists with Akrobatik and DJ Fakts One, has embarked on a soul-renewing journey to save his spirit in Don’t Look Down, his fourth official full length studio album, and he’s bound to teach us all a thing or two along the way as well. The wise knowledgeable rapper, who was a staple of Definitive Jux, released his first two highly conscious albums, I Phantom and Mo’ Mega, as well as two remarkable EPs, Enters The Colossus and Emergency Rations, on the label then changed record companies for his 2009 project, the voracious politically charged I Heard It Today. Today, April 15, he releases Don’t Look Down, his fourth LP, which the folks at alternative hip-hop breeding ground Mello Music Group have the privilege of distributing. There was never any doubt that Mr. Lif would deliver magnificently again for this issue, and its three lead-up singles are just the tip of the iceberg for what’s left in store. It’s got a two-song-spanned action story, revealing lessons, backpack rap moments and positive, forward marching tones, despite Lif’s admitted sadness with the world he sees. Without question, it’s a splendid hip-hop affair.
“Pounds of Pressure” and “The Abyss” deliver a tense, suspenseful tale of a couple and a disturbed violent stalker out to get his sick twisted thrills. It’s an audio-movie of sorts that harkens back to Sam Peckinpah’s 1971 horror flick Straw Dogs in more than a few ways, and unfortunately, the gripping action story that Mr. Lif tells so well comes to a close after those two tracks. Don’t Look Down is uniquely a feelings-based rehab if you will for Lif. In “Everyday We Pray,” he reports on his sadness, depression and loneliness, but thanks to his strong mindset and good graces, he finds his way through in a calm breathable way in “Let Go” with some assorted bits of wisdom plus holistic, wholesome, natural hip-hop music therapy in “A Better Day.” The next three tracks featuring Blacastan, Akrobatik and Del The Funky Homosapien are a brilliant backpacker’s dream as they mountain-hike advanced planes of thought, trekking on like the expert rap-adventurers they so very much are. Two optimistic songs wrap everything up. In “iLL,” Lif flaunts poetically perfect verses shining rays of hope down upon us and goes to further lengths to keep us on track in the inspirational, appreciative title-track, “Don’t Look Down.”
This is yet another smart fresh effort from Mr. Lif, no doubt. A wonderful creation like this must do spades to uplift him and his fans. It features a variety of palatable music genres on the production end, soulful, selfless and skilled contributions from singers Selina Carrera, Erica Dee and the guest emcees, and again lots of relevance to these less-than-ideal times we live in. It might not strike you as a blatant all-out classic when it’s over, but like always, Lif’s delivered something tiers above much of what is on the hip-hop market these days. He and his friends do it for the art and the people first and credit and recognition second.