Mr. Lif seems to know who he is — or at least who he wants to be. On “I Phantom,” the Boston native picks up the oft-forgotten torch of KRS-One and Public Enemy, purveying perfectly their aesthetic of clunky, layered beats set to biting social commentary and lyrical storytelling. A devout disciple of old-school, Lif transcends the “back in the day” posturing and “bling-bling” materialism, producing a magniloquent saga that satisfies your ears as well as what’s between them.
Like Lou Reed’s 1989 “New York” album, “I Phantom” should be viewed as a 14-track story told from multiple perspectives. Flipping fluidly between the tale’s characters, Lif strings together their trials — with office angst, misguided consumerism and family strife — all the while using a staggering rhythm peppered with dry cynicism. On the track, “Iron Helix,” for example, Lif plays the role of devil’s advocate, encouraging all to embrace the technological power of modern civilization (“Focus on your omnipotence/Teach your infants this/Kiss the bar code on your wrist”).
Read the full review at The Japan Times Online.