“Approximately 40 miles outside San Diego the tour bus with MR. LIF, the COUP, DJ BIG WIZ, METRO, and other friends of theirs flipped over and burst into flames,” wrote Def Jux capitán El-P via e-mail. Our heart skipped a beat. Boston’s greatest MC was touring with the Coup and headed East, where he’d be playing the Paradise Rock Club on December 15.
Everybody survived relatively intact, but the Paradise show, as you might imagine, has been cancelled. “The tour bus ran off the road for a 30-foot drop,” writes Lif on his Web site. “We appreciate all concern and would like to thank everyone who was planning to attend our shows.” Lif was primed to do it too. “We haven’t really been on tour, we had a lot of breaks,” he said over the phone from San Francisco just a few days before the crash, which destroyed the bus and everything inside. “I’m just happy when I get on stage with a mic and there’s a crowd there. I think in order to promote a record right you really have to tour the US twice in one year. So for Mo’ Mega there are still cities I haven’t hit. I haven’t been to Minneapolis and I haven’t been anywhere in Texas. And people will tell me about it too: they’ll hit me up on MySpace, kids in Texas and Florida, and they’re pretty upset!”
Although Lif is highly political and powerful on his raps, he comes across casual on the phone, and as he walks down Haight Street people are coming up and giving him props. “I lived here from 2001 to 2004. So I still have a lot of friends here.” Later, he calls after doing some shopping: “I just went to Amoeba SF, man. Got to support the record stores. I got a bunch of DVDs, one-man army films: Rambo 2, Red Heat, Delta Force 4. To me they’re even funnier than comedies. And I had to get Delta Force 4: I mean, Chuck Norris, you think he’s old and needs to be retired, but he’s still out there kicking ass!”
Lif’s next stop is Shoe Biz, a place where he hung out during his time in the Bay Area back when “the Pats won all their Super Bowls.” He’s starting to work on his follow-up to Mo’ Mega right now, and already he has some new rhymes in mind. In the meantime, he’s released Sleepyheads II on his own and is selling it on the road and in a few select outlets. “It’s something I do really for the fans. There’s no radio promotion or publicity behind it. It’s a compilation of things that people may not know are out there.”
Lif’s fan base, which has always been drawn in by his powerful delivery and razor-sharp cadence, is still growing. At least, “I think it’s growing,” he says with a laugh. “It’s hard to tell sometimes, but there are definitely people who come to the shows who are like, ‘Yo, it’s my first time seeing your show.’ ” Lif no longer lives in Boston, though he argues, “I’m still from Boston. I spent 20 years of my life in Boston. I call Philly home now, but wherever I live I’m gonna call my home. I lived in Berlin and that was my home. I lived in Amsterdam and that was my home. But nothing will keep me captive like Boston did.”