The bicoastal Boston/Berkeley MC Mr. Lif makes the sort of politically charged Bolshevik boom-bap that warms the coffee of both old-school hip-hop fans and MoveOn.org activists. Which -- despite what that demographic might indicate -- doesn't mean that Lif can't get down and party. On Black Dialogue, his new group does mill about in the classrooms of linguistic analysis ("Black Dialogue"), modern imperialism ("Memorial Day"), and old-fashioned populism ("People for the Prez"), but these Perceptionists have also got a wild streak, as demonstrated by "Party Hard," their stellar collaboration with Boston's most famous hip-hop native, Gang Starr's Guru. But the best thing about the album isn't the balance of politics and partying; it's the back-and-forth between Lif and fellow Perceptionist MC Akrobatic. With a deep, forceful voice that delivers lyrical body blows, Akrobatic provides a perfect counterpoint to Lif's trebly, precisely placed vocal jabs. The result, with expert beats by Fakts One, is an album that is aesthetically and thematically balanced.
The Perceptionists, featuring Mr. Lif, Akrobatic and Fakts One, are scheduled to perform at the CD release party for Brad B (MC for the Drunken Immortals) on Saturday, May 14, at the Old Brickhouse Grill.