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The Comedy of Errors

Interview: Mr Lif

1 August 06 photos: Jason Messer
interview: Jesse Keene

We had a chat with the politically-fuelled rapper in the lead up to his new album...

How does it feel to be back in the UK? 
It’s so amazing to be back here, I mentioned it a couple of times at the show last night but I was really worried that there weren’t going to be many people there. So I was relieved when I got to the club and saw the energy when Cool Calm Pete was on. I was like “wow I can’t wait to get on stage.” 
 
So have you been busy since you crossed the water? 
Since I have been here it really has been just constant interviews, It’s like I got here, took a nap, then went up to XFM to meet with Dan Greenpeace and that was great. Me and Cool Calm Pete did an interview with him and we did a live performance up in the studio of a couple of the exclusive tracks from the album. The next day was all interviews until show time and today it’s more interviews again. Tonight I’m meeting with my booking agent so that I can tell him that I want to focus on the UK. Then after that I’m off to record a track with Morcheeba!

So you’re over here to promote the new album. Enlighten us a bit on the content of Mo Mega? 
I really wanted to come back and go for what I know. I felt I had done some deviations from what people expected from me. It’s not that I want to always give people what they expect, but I just wanted to go back to my foothold and come with some of the rawest, hardest possible shit that I could. I wanted to include some of the hardcore politics and make some songs that are insightful, you know. At the same time I put a few tracks into the mix, which expand on what people think of me and let them know that I can make more than just political songs. The first five songs are real rugged. It starts off with Collapse which is a real personal song to me. It’s about the process of making a record and how heart wrenching that can be and also an introspective view of how my career has gone. Then it branches out into this political bloodbath, like dealing with the hollowness of going to a big shopping centre and walking out with something or nothing. I think the result is pretty similar in both cases. 
 
Politics plays a big part in your music… 
Yes it does. The track Brothaz deals with the lower value placed on people of colour by our governments worldwide and how that affected the situation down in New Orleans and Darfur (over two and a half million people driven from their homes now face death from starvation and disease as their Government and militias attempt to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching them). Then it moves on to tracks like The Fries using wild conspiracies theories about food poisoning and McDonald’s, to the point of population control. Then I flip the whole album on its head with Murs Iz My Manager and changing the whole tone of the record by having two humorous tracks together, as it’s back to back with Washitup. I just thought that really what we’re shooting for is to capture how the times sound and the reality is. There are lots of people dancing and smiling if you look at entertainment, especially in rap videos. A lotpeople are saying nothing and looking shiny, but under the surface the world is spinning out of control. 

You’re not a fan of the Bush Administration… 
For us in America we’ve realised we have no control over the government. They do not work for the people in any way. In fact the people are the last thing that they’re thinking about, outside of getting the money that we owe them for taxes. That’s why the record is abrasive and very angry until the points where it gets happy

You put a lot of time and effort into your gigs. How important is live performance to you?
To me it’s like the bread and butter of the whole thing. As an artist it’s your way of maintaining an existence financially, but as an emcee you spend all this time writing tracks, then time in the studio recording them. You get the opportunity at a show to go out there and see how the music affects people. For me this time round it has been interesting because the album is not out yet, so it was interesting to see the crowd’s reaction to songs that were new to them. I feel that the interaction at a show should be a celebration of music. People have got a lot of other things that they could be doing with their money, they don’t have to spend it on watching me hop around the stage. I appreciate that they do and I try to give them my all…

 

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