Album: Mr Lif <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

For now, hip-hop remains safe in the hands of the Def Jux crew, with this second explosive offering from Mr Lif sustaining the high standards set by the likes of Cannibal Ox, Aesop Rock and Murs. As usual, El-P's production sounds like nothing else in rap or rock, with his extraordinary backing track for Lif's fast-food attack "The Fries" standing out for its shifts through several discrete passages of sinister, scarified industrial noise and beats. Lif, too, is on form again, "back with a bloody axe and some muddy facts over tracks" as he savages Bush over Iraq and Katrina, adding "fuck Clinton, too!" for good measure, an equal-opportunity haranguist. Technically, he's clever - the double-tracked vocal of "Ultra-Mega" is like overlapping dialogue in a screwball comedy - and "Collapse" and "Murs Iz My Manager" offer sharp, witty commentaries on the hip-hop business. But there's an underlying pessimism to Lif's art, best realised in "For You", a parody of all those R&B/hip-hop tracks written for the artist's children. In Lif's case, it's written to his unconceived child: "You're not here/ Because I fear/ What's in the future".

DOWNLOAD THIS: 'The Fries', 'Brothaz', 'Collapse', 'Murs Iz My Manager'