I Heard It Today is an album born out of trauma. Both personal trauma for Jeffrey “Mr. Lif” Haynes and the trauma experienced by much of the United States during a particular period in history. Released 10 years ago, it’s an album that’s of a particular time, reflecting the troubles, thoughts, and fears felt by Lif during the period of 2007 through 2009, another period during which this country was thrown into chaos.
When Lif released I Heard It Today, his fifth project and third solo long player, the Boston-born emcee already commanded respect. Besides helping establish Boston’s underground hip-hop scene, Lif was one of the first artists signed to Definitive Jux Records, the indie rap juggernaut created by El-P, formerly of Company Flow and currently of Run the Jewels fame. Lif released four projects through Def Jux ranging from the deeply political to the highly conceptual, and just about everything in-between. He earned critical acclaim for his fierce rhyme skills and travelled the globe, sharing his voice and vision with the world.
Things got brutal for Lif during the mid to late ’00s, however. In December 2006, he survived a tour bus accident while he was on the road with The Coup. While driving towards San Diego, the bus driver fell asleep at the wheel, sending the vehicle careening off the road, dropping 38 feet down before eventually coming to a stop. While no one was seriously injured, everyone on board was lucky to be alive; the bus was not that far past or away from drops of 100 to 200 feet, which certainly could have killed everyone on board.
As Lif coped with the stress of the near-death experience, he received another blow. He discovered that as a victim of predatory banking practices, the mortgage payments on the homes he owned for both himself and his parents were skyrocketing. This was part of the greater housing crisis and economic collapse that gripped the United States in the spring and summer of 2008. And at the same time, the country was in the throes of a contentious presidential election. Out of all of this tumult, Lif put together I Heard It Today, a dark project that displays all the features of Lif’s own fears and anxieties, within the broader framework of a nation that was in the throes of fighting for its soul.
Lif attempted to start with a clean slate with I Heard It Today. The first major difference was that the project was self-released. Lif put out the album through Bloodbot Tactical Enterprises, his own label, and received distribution through Traffic Entertainment.
The second difference was reflected in the music itself, as Lif collaborated with a slew of different producers on I Heard It Today. He received a beat from frequent collaborator Edan, but the rest of production rogues gallery are beatsmiths who had never appeared before on a Lif solo album. The line-up includes Headnotic from the Bay Area’s Crown City Rockers, New York’s J-Zone, and Paten Locke and Willie Evans, Jr., a pair of Jacksonville, FL stalwarts. But the lion’s share of beats are handled by Batsauce, a German-born producer with ties to the Jacksonville scene.
I Heard It Today is very effective when it deals with the fallout from the turmoil that occurred while the album was recorded. Songs like the title track, “Welcome to the World,” and “What About Us?” capture the anger and dismay that citizens felt as they watched Big Banks tank the economy and receive billions in federal bail-out income, while they lost their jobs and homes. Lif deals with larger societal ills on “Hatred” and “Gun Fight,” a screed against police violence.
This isn’t to say that I Heard It Today is all chaos and disorder. “Breathe,” with Philly emcee Bahamadia, expounds on coping mechanisms amidst the stress of a maddening environment. Meanwhile, “Folklore” is a murderously hyper-aggressive, lyrical slaughter track that Lif often specialized in earlier in his career. He’s joined by the aforementioned Paten Locke and Willie Evans, Jr., coming together as Dumbtron, along with Jedi Mind Tricks’ Vinnie Paz. The album ends with “The Sun” and “Dawn,” two optimistic and inspiring tracks that point to the hope of better days ahead.
Lif recently spoke with me extensively about what it took and what he went through in order to complete I Heard It Today. He explains the process of navigating a bank-fueled hell, becoming psychologically well enough to record an album, and learning on the fly how to function as a record label. He also breaks the album down track by track.
Mr. Lif: I Heard It Today was more of a product of the times. It really was me looking around and saying look at what an interesting era we are living in. We got Obama versus McCain. That alone to me was interesting enough. But then of course the housing crisis hit, which is extremely unfortunate. I shouldn’t say unfortunate. It was dastardly. So, you know, to me it seemed like it was the time to be one of the voices that was sharing a perspective on what was going on.
There wasn’t a plan leading up to all the things that happened. This really was a product of what was going on politically in terms of the prospect of the first Black President. It’s an amazing thing that I never thought I’d see in my lifetime. Then also the housing crisis dropped and I had to navigate two single-family houses through that nightmare. The whole reason I got into real estate in the first place was my parents were in a really, really weird, awkward, and not good apartment rental situation in Brighton, Massachusetts where I grew up. And just some shit where things were breaking and the property owners were doing nothing. At one point the ceiling caved in, in the kitchen like over where my mom, grand-mom and pops were trying to eat food. Those folks left that ceiling exposed for months. They didn’t see it as an emergency. Who knows what kind of chemicals and shit are up there?
I had been on tour. This is post I, Phantom. I did plenty of touring and then when Aesop dropped Bazooka Tooth, he and I paired up so we were just touring around the world. I really don’t buy shit, man. Not aside from audio gear, I don’t shop for clothes. I’m not into cars, I couldn’t care less about jewelry. None of that shit has an impact on me, so I’m really not America’s ideal consumer. If it was left up to me, the economy would be hurting, from a consumer standpoint.
So, I was just sitting on my earnings, man, and I was like, ‘I’m going to take some of this money and I’m going to buy a house for my folks.’ After I got my parents situated in 2004, in 2005 I was looking for a new city to call my own, ‘cause I had really done my thing in Boston for several years and I just wanted to move onto a new frontier. So, I bought a place for myself in Philly. I was having a relationship there with a really kind lady and just figured, ‘okay, this is life, this is what you do right? You get yourself a home, you live in it.’ But the bottom line is I will never forget being in my house in Philly opening up my mail with my mortgage statement in it and seeing the mortgage had increased to like $1,200 above what it normally was. And then getting word from my parents that the same thing had happened at their place.
JD: So you didn’t have a fixed rate?
Lif: Exactly. Because I was one of those people that was targeted and recruited by banks at the time. I would say aside from the fact that I happened to be particularly cash fluid at that point in time, I did not have one iota of a profile of someone that should be a homeowner. So my credit was shot from dumb shit I did when I was a teenager, whatever. Basically, I didn’t have a good job and I bought an EPS 16+ so I could start making beats.
JD: A youthful indiscretion.
Lif: Yep, but let the record show that I did make “Inhuman Capabilities” on that. I made that beat. I made the beat for “Jugular Vein.” I made the beat for “Home of the Brave.” I made the beat for “Elektro” on that. So it was a wise investment. But I had college loan debt. When I saw someone telling me I was eligible for a mortgage, I was like, ‘are you serious? For real?’
But, hey, I talked to the bank. They said, “Hey, we want you to clear up this, this, and this.” Luckily I was cash fluid enough to clear up some of my prior debts and I was able to go ahead and purchase that home for my parents in ‘04. And then in ‘05 I was able to purchase the one for myself. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was a part of a scam. I thought that my mortgage was the real actual month-to-month cost of the house when what had happened was that they had it structured so that my money wasn’t really going to pay any of the principal balance and as soon as that thing adjusted, it was like, “Okay, well here’s the real cost of it.”
And keep in mind, I put 20% down on both of those houses. My whole thing was I was aggressively trying to pay those off. On my parents’ house, I was making an additional $500 a month in principal payments to try to knock that balance down. All that money went up in smoke.
When it came to the inspiration behind writing the I Heard It Today album? That was a huge chunk of it. It was like I was going through that nightmare day to day. So it was multi-tiered. It was like, ‘Okay, I have to find a way to survive this shit.’ Because when people are scared about their money, people ain’t booking shows. Entertainment suffers first. Vacations suffer. People aren’t spending money on music. And keep in mind, we’re talking about ‘07, ‘08, so people already kind of stopped buying vinyl. People weren’t really into CDs like that anymore. People were stealing music anyway. So it was a tough time. For me it was like, ‘Okay, I need a way to financially survive this and I need a way to mentally survive this.’ So creativity was my outlet. I basically made that album to document a very unique time in American history, and also to help stabilize myself from a financial and mental standpoint.
JD: Were you able to keep things okay with the two houses?
Lif: Yes, which is one of the greatest feats I’ve ever pulled off. I was able to navigate those places through the housing crisis. But I will say that in 2014, I did let go of the place in Philly. It was largely due to a lot of the BS that I faced due to the housing crisis. After I had to leave Philadelphia, I just didn’t have a strong enough connection to the city for me to be managing the place from Boston. It was too tough for me to be a long-distance landlord.
JD: So how did you first go about putting this album together?
Lif: A lot of it was made as a calling of the times. I first went to Traffic, who was helping me with distribution. The idea initially was there’s so much interesting shit going on in the news right now from a political standpoint. The whole idea was for me to be making a weekly song. The I Heard It Today concept was like, yo, so much is going on right now that it was worth me actually chronicling it as it was happening.
JD: You put this album out on Bloodbot. Was that your own label?
Lif: This is the only record that I ever actually put out myself with a distributor.
JD: So what made you decide to put this one out yourself?
Lif: It was weird timing. I was touring for Mo Mega and got into a tour bus wreck. Def Jux and I had been in negotiations and I just didn’t feel like we could find a way to get back to making records the way we used to. You’ve got to take into account the era that that was. You’ve got lawyers cracking down on samples in hip-hop and I felt like a lot of my team, my production team just hadn’t made that adjustment yet.
So I was just like, ‘Man, what am I going to do? I’m gonna sign this contract and then I’m gonna do what?’ I just didn’t feel like pressing my relationship with Jux past its prime. If I had to sum it up, that’s probably the main thing is sometimes for me when I’ve had a really good run with something, I’m like, ‘Man, why would I press it now?’
So I walked away from working with Jux. Again, this was survival. It was like, ‘I have a legitimate reason right now where I want to be heard, post-bus wreck.’ And this is probably at the beginning of when I’m psychologically really trying to, or starting to, get myself back together just from genuine trauma from that whole incident.
JD: How long after the accident did you wait to start really recording again?
Lif: In 2008 is probably right when I started to feel whole again, in terms of my psychological recovery. ‘Cause it took me a minute to just really buy into the fact that I really even survived that shit, man. It was a long road back. You know what I mean? ‘Cause I had some physical injuries, but really, man, it was a lot of the “what ifs” that were killing me with that accident. ‘Cause there were much longer drops not too far away. It was just tough to psychologically recover.
I recorded the whole album myself, which was a whole different thing for me because I was just kind of holed up in my house, man. It was just like, ‘Okay, I finally got myself back together psychologically from the bus wreck and now the economy has collapsed and I’ve got these two super market-dependent single-family houses and I’ve got to figure out a way to get through this shit.’ And my dad was having a cancer situation that he was fighting through. That’s why I left Philly and went back to Boston.
So much shit happened. And then the next thing you know, I rent my crib in Philly to some people and then they stopped paying the rent. Then I gotta be going back and forth from Boston to Philly for an eviction process. It was tough times. It was dark. It was like late ‘08, ‘09, 2010 for me was darkness, man. Like hard, hard shit.
Actually, I Heard It Today is probably my last deeply political piece of work. Not to say that I haven’t said anything since then, but there was a certain way that I was pushing against the machine on this album that I’ve really fallen back on just for the purposes of being able to breathe a little bit and also just being so deeply disgusted by a lot of this shit that I see going on. In order to have a happier outlook day to day on life, I’ve had to fall back. I’m not as glued to the news as I once was on a day-to-day basis because I find it sometimes to be toxic.
JD: A lot of the production on this album was done by cats who you hadn’t worked with before on your albums. A large chunk of it was done by Batsauce. What made you decide that you wanted him to so much of I Heard It Today?
Lif: I met him through the homie, Paten Locke. That’s that Jacksonville connection that’s been so strong in my life. That Jacksonville connection has yielded me work with Willie Evans Jr., Paten Locke, and Batsauce. I think that sometimes for a lyricist who has a lot to say at any given time, a prolific producer is one of the biggest blessings you can have. Because I’ve worked with producers who just don’t have a high output and I know how frustrating that can be.
At the time, Bat had the hot hand. He was just making those beats that when I heard them I was like, that embodies something that I’m trying to get across right now. And I was lucky to have him. I knew he wasn’t a name that was going to draw a bunch of people to the record. But he was just talented.
Really, if you look at my whole career, I’ve been blessed to have some good friends who are ultra-talented. I don’t think I’ve done too much reaching. Luckily I’m good friends with Edan. Luckily I’m friends with El-P. Those cats have blessed me with some of their finest work and that’s benefited my career. So same thing with Bat. It was just like, ‘Hey, that’s the homie. He’s making some shit that knocks right now. Let me link with him.’
That record was really cathartic for me. I know it’s not my most popular record. I know it didn’t get my best reviews, but it was just really a means of survival, man, in so many aspects.
JD: So let’s do a breakdown, track by tack. It starts with “Welcome to The World.”
Lif: I was just trying to sum up how I felt about the chaos that was going on. It’s like the swirling whirlwind but also like the general cynicism about politics in the country that I have brought to so much in my career prior to making this record. I was just trying to bring that palpable feeling of chaos to the forefront.
JD: The first words on the album are about Obama, and how people shouldn’t trust the government just because a friendly face is the president.
Lif: It was definitely that feeling of ‘Let’s not get duped here, man.’ ‘Cause it’s a show. We know the whole thing is a show. So it was like, ‘Okay, things just got really interesting. We got this plot twist. We got a Black president.’ We can all be hopeful, but let’s just not assume that everything’s fixed. It’s great to feel like things could be getting closer to being fixed, but let’s be real and let’s stay focused.
JD: Next is ”What About Us?”
Lif: It’s a song that I connect so deeply with. When I’m performing at shows, it’s still in my lineup, man, which is probably the highest compliment I could give for any song, man. ‘Cause when you go deep into a catalog and you get these opportunities to step on stage, you get a sliver of time to say what you want to say to an audience. And “What About Us?” has just remained one of those special songs that is like a rallying cry.
It’s the direct response from watching the bailout happen and just saying, ‘Hey, okay you guys caused this crisis and now you’re cutting gigantic checks to people that are already wealthy while we’re all out here just like, ‘Oh shit!’’ You’ve got parents moving back in with their kids. We’re all out here standing in the cold and you guys are cutting major checks to CEOs that still got their bonuses even though they tanked the entire economy. Those three words summed up so much to me about how I felt about that particular time.
JD: Next is “Breathe” with Bahamadia.
Lif: That was just an honor. I went and picked up Bahamadia, like literally brought her to the crib, bro. It was really Philly-grown organic shit at that time, ‘cause I was living in Philly when I made this record. Like literally just went to the crib, picked up Bahamadia, brought her over into my little lab where I was on some mad scientist shit. We built on the concept. I think I might have just set her up so that she could just hit the space bar and record or whatever and do her little editing however she wants. And I just left her in the room to do her thing, man, and came back and was just extremely pleased with what she recorded. Just vintage Bahamadia. And I don’t know how many cats got tracks with her.
JD: Not many.
Lif: And she’s not the easiest character to corral like that. So having her presence on the record really feels like a blessing. For me as a male emcee in hip-hop, recognizing what a male dominated field hip-hop is, anytime I have an opportunity to bring the female voice to be heard, to have that strong female presence in hip-hop, I like to do what I can to amplify that.
JD: “Collapse the Walls.”
Lif: Working with my boy, Edan. That’s one of my favorite things to do in this business. That’s just one of my favorite human beings. It’s just those times where you feel very constricted by what’s going on in society. Even your comfort with the status quo sometimes can be perilous. Often there’s a lot of things woven into the fabric of what we all believe or what we all take as common and that stuff can be highly detrimental. It’s the stuff that’s just right under your nose.
For me “Collapse the Walls” was a call for, yo, I would love to just push against the walls of this shit and knock it over and see what’s behind it. Or have that breath of fresh air that hopefully all of us have experienced from when you enter a new frame of mind about something. Maybe you have a good conversation with somebody and they open your mind to a different perspective. And that’s just such a refreshing feeling. So for me it was like, “Yeah, man, let’s just knock this whole shit down since it’s clearly not working, and see what’s on the other side of this shit.”
JD: Next is “Folklore” with Dumbtron (Paten Locke and Willie Evans, Jr.) and Vinnie Paz.
Lif: Folklore’s just one of them grimy joints. It’s super ethereal, just like letting my imagination bang and staying in that surrealist [zone]. I’ve been really enjoying this feeling of being a surrealist painter with some of my lyrics. I feel like that’s the space that I occupy probably more regularly than anything else lately. When I have an opportunity to write something, I’m just trying to blow it out in terms of, ‘Yo, let me throw some imagery out here that people aren’t.’
‘Cause when you think about it, man, so much of rap is so heavily bogged down. Just like cats are so worldly. And I don’t mean that in a cosmopolitan sense. I mean they’re just talking about shit that’s of the world. And I when I say the world I’m not talking about the beautiful green Earth, I’m talking about within society. Just stupid shit like going to the jewelry store, or getting the flyest car. We all know what it’s like to have and to not have and to be kind of boxed in by a set of beliefs. But let me just blow this shit out and just see if you guys can rock with me when I throw these off-the-wall images out there. Just encouraging people to think and expand the envelope a little bit.
And then linking with Vinnie Paz of course just made it vintage. It’s just awesome shit where OGs stick together, man. I have nothing but respect for Jedi Mind Tricks. Vinnie’s a monster in this business and he’s a monster on the mic. It’s just a blessing; the OG showed up. And then Willie Evans and Paten, they’re a powerful combination. They call themselves Dumbtron. It’s just that free form rap griminess where we’re not worried about selling no records, we’re not worried about no chorus and all that shit, we’re just trying to blast you with that shit that we grew up on and just keep that part of the culture alive. That lyrical homicide shit right there.
JD: “Gun Fight” featuring Metro.
Lif: Sadly, police brutality was an issue back then. And then, especially in the last couple of years of Obama’s reign, it was so, so prominent. And I’m not saying that it’s any less prominent now, but I’m just saying, man, some of those incidents they just stuck with me, man. Sandra Bland. Philando Castile. I just can’t get those images out of my mind. Images that I’ll never ever forget and that legitimately fuck me up.
But that’s later in Obama. I just wanted to say my piece on it and involve my brother Metro who I was touring around the country and around the world with. It’s just living in an environment where you genuinely want peace and you just realize the people that you would turn to in a time of crisis, maybe their main intention isn’t to protect you. It’s a really odd corner to be backed into. I wanted to speak my piece on it.
JD: How did you hook up with J-Zone?
Lif: Zone and I go back a little bit. It’s just the OGs showing up in a time of crisis. You call on people and if you’re lucky where they’re at aligns with where you’re at, and you’re able to make something that’s going to be around long after I’m gone, man.
It’s these special moments that I could get real sappy about it, but nothing I’m saying is untrue. My lifespan is so finite and I don’t know how long the Earth is going to be around. I don’t know what forms music is going to take, but I’m thankful for these opportunities that I’ve had to make music that I can leave behind, man, to encapsulate what I was thinking at the time. And I’m really glad that Zone was around, because I think his instrumental captured the level of chaos that me and my boy Metro were feeling at the time and how we wanted to address it.
JD: Next is “Hatred.”
Lif: That’s the only joint on the record that I produced. First of all, I’ve always been an EPS-16+ cat. I never was able to make the transition to MPC. But I bought an MPC1000 because I was like, ‘Yo, I’m not productive enough as far as being a recording artist when I’m on tour.’ So I wanted a piece of portable equipment that I could bring with me and produce. The only beats I’ve made on that that ever came out on record are “Washitup” and “Hatred.” When I stopped fucking with the EPS-16+, my production just slowed down so drastically. Like I used to make probably at least a third of my own beats in my early career. Then I just dipped way down after that.
“Hatred” embodies that colossal feeling that moves me about rap sometimes. Sometimes I just like to rhyme on something epic and it brought out a certain tonality in my voice, a certain subject matter that I found to be particularly haunting. Dealing with the way that we look at each other as Black people, fighting against institutionalized hatred, being viewed as less than 100% of a man. There’s no way to really express to somebody how the psychological effects of that can linger on.
I was never personally enslaved in the traditional sense, but there’s things that just linger. You could obviously look to very harsh examples like the prison industrial complex, which is definitely the new form of slavery. You could look at subtle stuff like the fact that to this day I don’t feel comfortable walking behind nobody when I’m walking down the street. Literally, if I’m walking someplace and somebody of a lighter tone steps out in front of me, bro, I’ll just cross the street. I’ll literally stop and look at my phone. I act like I have something to do. It’s this constant state of trying to disarm or diffuse. I’m trying to diffuse the situation from what people might think.
Whether or not it’s as relevant today as when I developed these tendencies, because I developed these tendencies probably as a teenager. To just not feel comfortable walking behind somebody, especially at night. I don’t want any part of that. And then honestly, a part of it is having people cross the street on me so many times that I’m like let me just cross the street first, so I don’t have to feel this pain of just knowing that me being around, as gentle and as kind of a person as I am, made you uncomfortable because I’m brown.
It’s just so deep that I can’t sum it up. I wasn’t able to sum it up in that song. I was only able to capture some of my feelings about it and so that beat, that’s the only one I made on the record. But it’s one that to me set the stage to talk about a topic that I felt is borderline insurmountable and would take a sea of change in our collective consciousness as a race to really fully overcome.
JD: From there you go to “Head’s High.”
Lif: That’s that smoke out and bob your head shit. As an emcee you get that good good to smoke on? That shit will take you places man, especially for me. I definitely like to think I specialized in not abusing it. For me it’s not like I ever became one of these cats where ‘oh, I got to smoke two to four blunts to get my head right.’ For me it was like, ‘okay, let me take a puff of this man. Let me take one bong rip and I might be right for the next six to eight hours.’ My focus was always on letting me just get the best herb I possibly can get and an eighth will last me like four months. Some of my homies used to clown me about that shit. Like, “Damn bro, you’re aging this shit.” But that’s how I do. So my thing was, like, buy myself a nice bong. Buy myself the best possible herb and freshwater and ice man and the bong and just let me take not even a big rip, just a midsize rip and let this thing carry me places. I feel like “Head High” was really the product of that.
JD: Next is “I Heard It Today.”
Lif: That’s the one that embodies everything I was feeling about the housing crisis at the time. I interviewed people around me. The people that I had interviewed, those were cats that for real worked in the housing industry and lost their jobs. That shit was not made up. That was an embodiment of the pain and it’s really trying to shed a little light on that particular angle of the truth of what had happened. Dastardly shit. That down payment money. That shit is not easy to come up with.
JD: Those adjustable rates will fuck you up.
Lif: I know I went into that shit with the best intentions. I put 20% down on both of the cribs I bought. I was not fucking around, I was like I’m paying these off. But again, it was my first time ever investing and these cribs were bought like about maybe 10 months apart. I tried to learn as much as I could. I went from being like I was just going through life and these cats are hitting me up being like, “Yo, you could own a house.” I always was into real estate but I thought it was beyond me because my credit was fucked up.
I tried to learn as best as I could over a short span of time to make sure I was handling it well. I’ve got the place for my parents, I put 20 percent down. My mom and dad were in there. It was comfortable for them. It was a comfortable amount for them to pay. So we thought we were good as a family and once I had that settled, I moved on. I got myself a place for me and my lady. That mortgage was within our means. It just seemed like I was being so responsible.
And to have it go from that to being like, ‘wait what? You’re telling me I can’t afford either of these cribs? What happened?’ It’s just some crazy paradigm shift. If my home is intact, I can handle most things. But if now I’m worried about having a roof over my head, you know that’s a whole other type of battle to fight. So it was dastardly shit man.
JD: Next is “The Sun.” That’s an optimistic song on an a pretty dark album.
Lif: I feel like my job as a lyricist is to translate what the music says. So, on a song like “The Sun,” that beat is just so powerful and hopeful. Big up to the homie Headnodic for making that beat. But the flashes of hope on I Heard It Today definitely come from letting the music take me where I needed to go.
I just experienced such pure freedom on that one. Luckily, the album also needed that very justifiable breathing space right there. To share with people like ‘yo, the chips are down now, but what about this beautiful energy we have? What about this connection we have with each other?’ So it served a really important purpose on the record. It ended up really becoming a fan favorite off that album too. It’s a much-needed breath of fresh air.
JD: Then you finish it up with “Dawn.”
Lif: I tend to leave my records off on a pretty introspective note. Whether that’s “I, Phantom” on Emergency Rations, or “Postmortem” on I, Phantom or “Arise” on Enters the Colossus. So this was just vintage me, if you look at it from that standpoint. I like to end albums like that because it’s like, ‘Alright man, we just took this journey together for 45 minutes. Where we all at? Here’s how I’m feeling as I’m wrapping this up. Maybe I just can set a tone here for introspection for all of us.’
There was a real finish line to that record, like, I made it. Not only did I finish this record, but also now I can get out of this house and get away from some of the problems I’m facing back home and get out there and build with people that support me on the road. From venue to venue and build with the fans. What the saying? It’s the end of an era but the dawning of a brand new day. We all go through good times, we go through tough times. But if you can stay alive and don’t let the lows get too low and don’t let the highs get too high, you live to fight another day.
JD: You took a long time to release another album after this one. Any particular reason?
Lif: Well, one of the things that I learned from doing the I Heard It Today record is that I’m really not a record label. It just confirmed for me that I’m really not and I don’t really have those aspirations. So, for me I’ve always had this philosophy, I’d rather sit in silence and wait for a great opportunity to present itself for me to be really heard. I’d rather save my ammo for a company like Def Jux or Mello Music Group than to just try to make some fledgling effort to put stuff out on my own and not have many people hear it.
JD: Ten years later, how do you view this album?
Lif: It was a life raft. It’s probably one of the purest forms of how music has played a role in my life. As a kid, if I was in a situation where I was hurt, physically injured, I literally start rhyming the lyrics to one of my favorite rap songs to take my mind off of the pain. So thank God for this record. I was able to get through the housing crisis. That record brought me across the nation. It brought me in touch with fans that had supported me in years prior. It brought me over to the UK. It kept me going.