DID YOU READ

LIVE: Mr. Lif

LIVE:  Mr. Lif (photo)

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I’ve been to my fair share of “underground” hip-hop shows, and a fair share of them usually play out the same way: MC squats a spot in the middle of the stage, wraps mic cord around his/her wrist, furiously rhymes (while rarely leaving their middle of the stage position), and curiously forgets one of the tenets of live hip-hop–the hook. If you can’t sing-a-long, what’s the point?

Mr. Lif
Friday, April 10, 2009
Webster Hall (Studio)
New York, NY

Fortunately, Mr. Lif doesn’t share all of these traits, although if you’re familiar with his work, you’ll know a good portion of his stuff isn’t hook heavy either. But what Mr. Lif lacks in hooks, he more than makes up for in stage presence. Another complaint I have about “underground” hip-hop shows (geez, I’m starting to sound like a whiny old man) is that many of them lack the zest that would appeal to a first time listener. However, on Friday night, if a friend brought a friend to Webster Hall–who had never listened to Mr, Lif before–there’s a really good chance they went home a Mr. Lif fan.

(above: Mr. Lif working the crowd with his homemade noise-o-meter.)

Though touring on a shoestring budget, Mr. Lif does have a few bells and whistles up his sleeve, including a projector screen that syncs up a handful of his songs to a multi-media presentation. This works mighty well, especially when Mr. Lif is trying to nail home a political point. Besides using it as an educational tool, Mr. Lif has some fun with it as well, especially during his performance of “Washitup!,” which featured myriad commercials of people showering–everyone from Craig “Ironhead” Heyward to Ernie (of Ernie and Bert fame!). Later in the show when Mr. Lif was talking about our country’s economic cdownfall, he showed a Credit Wizard commercial and told the audience, “These are not actors–they’re assholes!”

Mr. Lif’s live show never comes off preachy, as he does a great job of balancing fun with seriousness. It’s hard to feel talked down to from a guy who forms a claw with his hand and uses it as a noise-o-meter (the more the crowd cheers the higher he raises it in the air). Mr. Lif’s message is also easy to digest, cause he always looks like he’s enjoying himself. How can you not like a guy who smiles during most of his set?

On Friday night, Mr. Lif busted out some new material from his soon-to-be-released I Heard It Today. The whiny old man in me loved “What About Us?“, because–yes–it had a hook! I also felt guilty for bobbing my head so much during a song about our country’s housing crisis, “I Heard It Today.”

Mr. Lif’s only “underground” hip-hop sin of the night, was not recognizing his hits. Three of my favorite Mr. Lif songs: “Home Of The Brave,” “Brothaz,” and “Party Hard,” were all ignored (although I can forgive the later, since it was a song he did with his group The Perceptionsists). And for someone who put so much detail into his live show, and it was disappointing that Mr. Lif’s set came to such an abrupt ending.

At the end of the night Mr. Lif told the crowd he was going to sell his new CD after the show–a couple weeks before it hit the streets. As he said this, the projector screen displayed the opening frame of his music video for “Brothaz.” I thought to myself: I guess Lif’s not gonna do an encore, but ending with “Brothaz” is a nice way to go out.

Gearing up for the grand finale I was a little shocked when Mr. Lif thanked the crowd, wished them good night, and began selling CD’s while “Brothaz” played on the video screen. I guess the whiny old man in me can’t have it all.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.