What rhymes with Barack?

By FRANKLIN SOULTS  |  October 29, 2008

The two album tracks released so far are something else. “I Heard It Today,” the title cut, sets Lif’s quick, smooth tenor flow to a beat by Willie Evans Jr., a Jacksonville producer introduced to Lif by Akrobatik. Its haunting hook and commanding syncopations suggest that, as Lif says, Evans is “a real talented cat who more people need to know about.” The urgent yet empathetic rhymes about the housing crisis suggest the same could be said of Lif. Although his decidedly leftist raps reach for a transcendent radical politics, his analysis is grounded in real-life problems and aspirations. The same can’t be said for some of his fans. Lif’s comments about the importance of Obama’s candidacy for people of color have incited angry Web-site comments about his support for any candidate. (No surprise that these objectors have mostly been white.)

“If I have to pick one of these two men,” he says, “I support Barack Obama. I think that we will continue to suffer because the system overall is fundamentally flawed: you know, a healthy market does not equal healthy people. So I think that, yo . . . we’ll suffer a bit more slowly. But the most dangerous thing about Barack Obama is that people are going to kick their feet up and be like, ‘All right, now we got our government back; that’s a victory.’ It’s not.”

So far, everything about I Heard It Today most definitely is.

MR. LIF + BLAK MADEEN + D-TENSION + TRUE INDEED | Middle East downstairs, 480 Mass Ave, Cambridge | November 2 at 9 pm | $15 | 617.864.EAST or www.mideastclub.com

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