MVRemix: When/how/why did you get into Hip Hop?
The passion for making Hip Hop music just kind of overwhelmed me back in like '93. I mean I had been listening to it at least since '87 or something like that and loved the music. '93 was when I started to write my own rhymes and shit.
MVRemix: Who are your inspirations?
All the legends...KRS One, A Tribe Called Quest, Rakim, around that time Nas was arriving and that had a major impact on my inspirational drive. You know ? So, yeah, Big Daddy Kane, UMC's, all those cats, they were just ridiculous....Kool G Rap, that old rawness. Oh shit, [shouts] Public Enemy. I should have said them first.
MVRemix: What's your dream record? Who features upon it and who produces it?
The cats I'd like to work with most, I mean, I'd like to straight up do a jam with Gang Starr. Not just get a beat from Premier but actually go into the lab with Gang Starr, Guru and Premier and make something happen, and also the GZA from Wu-Tang. He's like, you know, him and Guru are pretty much my favourite emcees.
MVRemix: Which producers do you like working with the most and why?
I like working with...Well, firstly, I'd like to say I'd rather, well, I don't know. Like my boy Insight, I like working with him because he's just, I think, a brilliant producer. And then, my boy Fakts makes beats, his name's Fakts-1, he's also my DJ most of the time at live shows. I'd rather make beats myself because it makes me, in that case, a self-contained unit. You don't have to worry about hooking up with anyone so...I try to make sure that I'm self sufficient in that regard.
MVRemix: What track of yours are you most proud of?
[pause] It varies, it all depends on my mood. I like "Inhuman Capabilities" but at the same time I stand by "Arise," I don't know, I'd say the one I like the least is probably "Triangular Warfare." But you know, "Settle The Score" and "Farmhand," I stand by them too. I'd say yeah, "Triangular Warfare" is the one I'm the least passionate about.
MVRemix: Why's that?
Just because it's just some straight battle-rhyme shit and that's not solely what I'm on about. I just try to bring than some in-your-face joint. That joint I wrote in '96, I put it out to pay respect to that era of my development. Nah, it's all a matter of mood and stuff like that for me, you know? I go through my era's of hatred where I just can't listen to any of my shit. Basically.
MVRemix: Firstly, congratulations on winning the Outstanding Rap/Hip-Hop Artist Award at the Boston Music Awards.
Yo, thank you so much man, for real! But that's just a reflection of the support of this community out here.
MVRemix: Who were you against in that and how, if in any way has winning affected you ?
I was up against Akrobatik, EDO.G, 7L & Esoteric, Skitzofreniks, Big Shug from Gang Starr and I think that might be it...I wouldn't say it has really affected me, I kind of almost forget about it to tell you the truth. I have the trophy and stuff, it's at my folks place, but I don't like see it [laughs] really ever. It's something that I won't really ever forget to be grateful to this community that has supported me. It's not a matter of that, but I mean, if anything, it's the perception of other people since I've won the award. It has resulted in maybe a few more shows for me and being able to command larger monies for my services and stuff like that. The impact that it has had on me is that it increased my sense of pride about this community because, here in Boston, they've been ultimately supportive of me and has really made me want to work harder to represent this area properly. Whats gotten me here and what's gonna keep me here is to just stay true to myself.
MVRemix: What's next for Mr. Lif? When are you gonna drop an LP? I know you're gonna come out with an EP soon, but
[interupts with enthusiasm] Yeah! It's just the record biz man. Right now I'm doing an EP, first of all because it's going to be my first body of work and it would be premature to do an album. And also with this EP, I'm putting it out through my production company (Thought Wizard Productions) and I'm also doing it in conjunction with Ozone Entertainment. So, what I'm basically going to do is learn a lot about the business because I'm going to be handling most of it and hopefully the EP, if people are really feeling it and they're feeling the lead single as well, maybe it will result in some more leverage for me to get the type of business situation I really want to, you know, release my album. I'm really not trying to get like 12 tracks and then have only like 10,000 people hear them. That would be just heart-breaking.
MVRemix: Do you plan on doing any touring soon?
Whenever it comes up, I mean I try to keep as busy as possible, I mean I'm going out to Germany on the 16th of August for an un-defined period of time. Then I'm supposed to return in October for possibly three weeks or so...but that's almost like an alternative type thing, I'm doing some trip hop too with this cat named Cosmopolis. Maybe even directly some Hip Hop stuff but I'd just like to perform to audiences that aren't tuned to Hip Hop, you know to try to expose them to it.
MVRemix: So, other than that, are there collabos/guest appearances from you we should be looking out for?
Yeah, um, yo, the new Masterminds album, I've got a track with them. The new 7L & Esoteric album, new Jedi Mind Tricks album, I did a joint with Del that should be coming out on this label named Chocolate Industries. And that should be coming out within the next couple of months. I'm doing some work with Mister Jason from Porn Theater Ushers, that's actually probably not going to be out for a while because we haven't even recorded yet. The record with Cosmopolis, which is the Trip Hop stuff should be coming out soon, as well as a joint I did with my boy Edam, who's also from Boston, and that's coming out in an un-defined period of time also. And also, this cat out here, Detention, he's putting a compilation out that features myself, Akrobatik, Virtuoso, Porn Theater Ushers, El Da Sensei from the Artifacts and Apani B-Fly Emcee as well as like Clokworx from Rhode Island, so...that should be coming out in the fall as well. So, there's a lot of stuff, I've been really, really busy. There's definitely over an albums worth of stuff coming out. The EP's got like 7 joints on it, and I've got several bonus and hidden joints that will be scattered around, so...there will probably be about 10 joints, all together that are in conjunction with the EP, I've been quiet for a while man, but that's because I've been in the lab.
MVRemix: If you could change one thing about the way your career has gone so far, what would it be?
Nothing man. Straight up. Even the bad times were just lessons that I learned from. And judging from where I am now, I feel blessed, I wouldn't change anything.
MVRemix: Is there anything you'd like to say to your fans and the general public that we haven't covered?
Honestly, I just hope that I continue to make music that people feel and I just hope that me looking into my heart to try to bring forth what I perceive is true, continues to provide hope and inspiration and positivity for folks. And at least spark some dialogue as I address issues that I feel are pertinent to human life universally. I hope that people continue to relate and just feel empowered because I'm just trying to raise awareness and cause conversation. To just provide some positive energy, to build and strive, to enjoy life, you know?
MVRemix: Tim said to me that you'll be dropping a 12" in about a month, can you give me some details on that ?
Yeah, the A-Side is called 'Front On This,' that's produced by my man DJ Pawl. The B-Side is this jam called 'Be Out' that I produced, it has cuts by my man Fakts-1 on it. I'd say sometime in August we'll have that shit out.
MVRemix: So, will that be on the EP or not?
The A will be on the EP, the B-Side is for the true heads who go out and buy the vinyl single. I'm contemplating whether I'm even going to make a radio edit of it or not, I just want it to be some dirty underground shit, so...I don't know. I'm leaning towards doing a radio edit of it so people can at least hear it, and know it exists to maybe go hunt it down. If they feel it. But yeah man, the 12", I'm gonna go put the finishing touches on it next week and then we're good to go.
Mr. Lif 2000 Interview by Hugo Lunny
Cage 2000 Interview by Hugo Lunny
Aesop Rock 2002 Interview by Saadiq
Vast Aire 2004 Interview by Todd E. Jones
S.A. Smash 2004 Interview by Todd E. Jones
Aesop Rock 2006 Interview by Alex Goldberg
Mr. Lif 2006 Interview by Alex Goldberg
Mr. Lif 2006 Interview by Hugo Lunny
El-P 2007 Interview by Josh Potter