Mr. Lif

Mr. Lif likes Radiohead and Bjrk

Lots of rappers boast about surviving trials by fire. Mr. Lif knows whereof he boasts. Late last year, a tour bus carrying him, the Coup, DJ Big Wiz, Metro, and others flipped over and burst into flames. Everyone survived, and as a rebirth of sorts, Lif has undertaken this "New Year, New Tour," supported by his Def Jux labelmate Keith Metro.

Lif's gravelly voice and relaxed verbal flow call to mind a guy slowly exhaling a large cloud of smoke. His beats have a classic East Coast backbone but are dipped in trippy touches, with a little reverb here and a little computer noise there. Although Lif has a political and social consciousness to his lyrics, he's not afraid to name-check Radiohead and Björk as influences, either.

Fear not: He's anything but navel-gazey onstage. Newbies will be shocked by his commanding stage presence. Audience participation is half the show, but rather than that tired wave-your-hands-in-the-air jazz, you'll be rapping right back at him. It might be about stuff that seems right out of comic books. But it also might be a dialectic that focuses on modern-day class struggle. Deep. — Arielle Castillo

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