Perceptionist and Definitive Jux all-star Mr. Lif has a weakness for gloomy, post-apocalyptic soundscapes, science-fiction imagery, and boyish aggression, but he always sounds at least a little like the president of the chess club, or the baddest Dungeons & Dragons aficionado in school. Mr. Lif's unassuming, bespectacled grad-student looks similarly undercut the outsized bravado of his more aggressive songs, but on his stellar new album, Mo'Mega, Lif embodies the perfect combination of thunderbolt-hurtling dystopian fantasist and street-corner philosopher. Like The Perceptionists' debut, Mo'Mega benefits from brevity—the running time just tops 40 minutes—and cohesion of vision.
The first five El-P-produced songs paint a riveting portrait of contemporary consumer culture as a barren wasteland of dispirited workers and rapacious bosses force-feeding the compliant citizenry trash culture and fast food. The disc takes a radical tonal shift with "Murs Iz My Manager," a defiantly goofy duet in which Murs tries to rocket his friend to fame through collaborations with Al Gore and Ben Affleck. Even goofier: "Washitup!", a borderline novelty song in which Lif assumes the persona of an '80s cartoon Rastafarian to tackle the pressing social issue of substandard feminine genital hygiene. "Long Distance" finds Lif riding a greasy El-P sex groove as he spits a salacious sex-rap that firmly establishes the album's shift from the big-picture future tense to the playful everyday.
Like The Coup's strangely simpatico latest album, Lif's frisky, humane Mo'Mega redefines what a political rap album can be. By fearlessly addressing both the perils of globalization and the buzzkill of malodorous crotches, Mr. Lif is fearlessly continuing the proud tradition of Chuck D and Martin Lawrence, KRS-One and Rudy Ray Moore. Who could ask for more?