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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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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

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Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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