Review Summary: Mr. Lif finds his way back to the type of style and consistency we all saw with I Phantom. As usual he doesn't seem happy with the current state of affairs in America.
Mr. Lif's beginnings as a hip-hop artist has flourished since he first entered through the back rooms of El-P at the age of 20. Extremely provocative with his political lyricism, Jeffrey Haynes is known for his poignant lyrics that capture the mind and soul of his beliefs and the political landscape of the time he currently resides in. While I Heard It Today
may look to be a turning point or a new road for Haynes because of his departure from El-P's Definitive Jux onto Bloodbot Tactical, it still remains to have his style intact from previous albums I Phantom
and Mo' Mega
"I'm dedicated to capturing the pulse of this tumultuous era we're living through". This statement by Mr. Lif may be the most important of his career. Every album he has ever made, including I Heard It Today
is highly politically driven. While his statement may be quite extreme for us, it doesn't feel unjust. We're in social and religious wars between two 'nations'. The latter may not seem different to anyone that knows their history, but the social constructs that are intertwining with the Iraqi War are astonishing. Much like the Native Americans, African slaves, and the Japanese to name a few, it seems America is persecuting another nation due to their social or political beliefs. It's nothing new, but for it to happen now, in this time as Haynes said is "tumultuous". This obviously gives I Heard It Today
more focus when you realize what exactly he preaches.
Immediately he makes his statement, "so I see, now that we got a friendlier face we should just trust the government." The production is on point throughout the opening track and it doesn't let up once. From the rhythmic buzz that captures "Welcome To The World" to the echoing, light cymbal bash in "What About Us?" What is more revealing though is the use of bass throughout the album. "Breath w/ Bahamadia" is has soothing dialect, heaped with depressed thoughts, but it still is so damn calm and laid-back. The majority of the album is littered with cymbal rushes that are infectious and help elevate the song to the next level, detracting from Mr. Lif's flow that sometimes feels confined to the average listener. That would seem to encapsulate Haynes' style as his manic lyrical expressions and non-stop drive in every song. Usually, if not always eveyr track shows tons of constant quick-timing pace with Haynes' throwing lyrics out as quick as possible. It feels mashed and a bit claustrophobic, thus if you can't stand the pace you won't stand the music itself.
The constant attacks on social and political structures do not tire, but some of the hired hands do. "Gun Fight feat. Metro" is too clobbered with police sirens, hyper pace by both Haynes and Metro. It is noticeable here and there on I Heard It Today
where some tracks don't work one bit and thus pull it out of its persona, even if its keeping the concept intact.
Lyrically though Mr. Lif has always been known to be more political-centric and it this is one of his best efforts in recent memory. Ramblings of petroleum, economy, state and federal government with their trifecta of trust, policy, brutality. It seems most of the black community, not only African-Americans have donned Obama as a future savior, but Mr. Lif is clearly stating he has done nothing, and we shouldn't embrace it. Much like Mos Def who has made a somewhat major comeback in the scene of hip-hop, Mr. Lif too seems to be refreshing as he was on I Phantom