Mr. Lif

Mo Mega (Definitive Jux)

With dreadlocks of unusually impressive girth, it would be easy to mistake the rapper Mr. Lif for a ganja-soaked reggae star. And though his family hailed from the island of Barbados, eventually settling in Boston, Lif's always favored writing songs that dissect and critique the evils of American capitalism (with aggressive sounds to match) over messageless party cuts dedicated to the booty shake. Over the last nine years, he's done this with enough precision and venom to scare more than a few self-appointed, deluded watchdogs of America's safety.

Given that history, Mo' Mega comes across as a bit of a surprise. Lif still has plenty to say that would be considered incendiary in the first half of the album — from the president's performance to FEMA's sad response to Katrina. But he allows the second half to let loose with songs about getting busy — like the hot take on phone sex called "Long Distance" and the Jamaican dancehall parody "Washitup!", making fun of our society rather than slashing at it with a machete of a microphone. On "Murs Iz My Manager," Bay Area rapper Murs helps to demonstrate how a song can be fun but still make a point: "Got a call from George Bush, says he knows about your trap/ How you put up Kanye West to say all that." Mo' Megais a balanced meal that's still heavy on the meat.

 
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