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Life - Everyday Life LP [Zebra Traffic Records]

Life - Everyday Life
Track Listings 
1. Alpha
2. Rock It Right ft. Skit Slam
3. Never Be A Crackhead
4. Kung Fu
5. Babalonian's
6. Always Living
7. Tommorow
8. Moviedrome
9. Pound for Pound
10. In Memory
11. The Number One
12. Slave's Revenge
13. Trust
14. Baddestman
15. Chosen One ft. Skit Slam
16. Time Crisis
17. Omega
Things are looking good for releases in 2003 and we are only a few months in. We had Food and now Life brings us his solo LP. Life is one of the MCs from Phi Life Cypher and here gives us more of what we would expect from one of the UK's top acts. Coming out of Luton, he and fellow Phi Life member, DJ and producer, Nappa have created 17 solid tracks that should appeal to many listeners and whilst they are definitely funky they are on occasion thought provoking and profound. PLC have moved from the Jazz Fudge label and hooked up with the relative newcomer, Brighton based Zebra Traffic, which is a subsidiary of Tru Thoughts. The first solo release from life was the 6.5 minute Moviedrome track, which whilst the production didn't vary for the duration of the track and the idea had been tried before, the combination of the evocative break and Life's amazingly inventive lyrics and powerful delivery did far more than stave off boredom. The track was a proper banger and showed that these guys aren't playing and that they must have tracks coming out of their ears. Moviedrome is on this LP, but the other promotional and topical track Bush & Blair is unfortunately not. Not that the LP is lacking without it, far from that. It is just that it is heavy too. Maybe too heavy!

Some of the tracks on the album will be familiar to fans who have been to any of their recent live performances. Tracks like Never Be A Crackhead and Baddestman having been crowd pleasers for sometime now. Never Be A Crackhead is such a straight up explanation of a drug abuse situation that you can fail to take note. Nappa's production is melancholy making use of a tambourine, plaintiff piano and acoustic double bass. Explanatory and educational, the way Life entwines these themes within his lyrics it is a powerful message to anyone who case to take the sentiments on board. The chorus refrain utters. 'I can see clearly now the crack smoke's gone, pick up my herb sack and I get my smoke on, I can see clearly now the crack smoke's gone, its gonna be a bright, bright, bright weed smoking day'. On the other hand, whilst still being a 'story' rap, i.e. one that has a central theme and thought out plot development rather than simply a whole load of boasts, Baddestman tracks the career of Mike Tyson. 

The LP opens with Alpha a short, but powerful head nodding string sampling beat just right to get you in the mood. The first full track Rock It Right opens with some dread talking, before Nappa hits you with the big beat and piano. Brief cuts from Mr Thing of 'life' and 'Rockin' it' and Life makes his entrance. You know his steez, relentless similes, and fast paced flow. Leaves you breathless listening. Also featuring on this is Skit Slam. Apparently the only vocal guest, who is also featured nearer the end of the LP on the Chosen One.

Kung Fu, flips up the vibe to a more stab orientated beat and more braggadocio orientated raps. Babalionian's immediately is more impressive than the previous track with its cuts from Juliano The Creator, mellow flute and inspired Nappa arrangements. This track proves that you don't have to get all aggy to get serious points across, and whilst it isn't as focused lyrically as some of the tracks there is an anti-establishment theme to be explored here. Always Living increases the pace a bit for one of the more bouncy and possibly club oriented tracks. A skippy gutar sample provides the setting for Life to get busy. Life uses so many words I wonder where it all comes from and it maybe that it is easier when you are just spouting off at all angles. The usual topics of weed smoking, general boasting, spreading consciousness and sneakers (why not trainers?) are all covered. I'm always impressed with the speed and clarity of Life's delivery, but the previous complaints that have been leveled at PLC of occasional weak metaphors could sprout up again here when lines like, 'golden like retrievers', 'swinging like a pendulum' and 'computerised like modems' are thrown in without apparent reference to the context. Still, there are some detailed metal images drawn here, which proves the skill of the MC. 

Life - Moviedrome Tomorrow's backing again features strings, but interestingly makes use of some male humming which in the chorus extends to say, 'Tomorrows must be better days'. A sentiment which fits well with the lyrics. In the intro Juliano The Creator cuts up OC's 'I'm here to make a difference' and 'My Album will manifest many things that I saw, did and heard about' and initially Life flows at a slower tempo to what he does usually. Lyrics are deeply observational and political, which could be oppressive, but the whole package is complete and comes off well.

Pound for Pound opens with the famous boxing announcer from Madison Sq Garden reciting his theatrical 'Lets get ready to rumble'. After the widely accessible Moviedrome this is another harder orchestral stab powered battle track. But similar to Movedrome the topic here is boxing and Life manages to get in there so many famous boxers names and boxing references it is an impressive feat.

In Memory has a slightly reggae vibe and is dedicated to racism, and more particularly the failings of the police in the Stephen Lawrence inquiry. It is a good thing that a large proportion of Life's lyrics are intelligent as this is one factor that is missing in so much of today's music. One thing that stands out on this album is the quality of the beats and it is no different for The Number One, another quality Nappa offering which from just a few sounds he creates an addictively seductive backing. Whereas the lyrics on The Number One sounded good I didn't find anything sticking out as particularly notable, but on Slave's Revenge Life returns to a themed song where he places himself in the position of a slave witnessing the rape and abuse of his pregnant wife and violence towards his unborn son and bredrins whilst he toils in the cotton fields of the plantation. Revenge grows within him and once he can take it no more he frees the other slaves, kills and tortures the slave masters and makes a break for freedom, eventually having to lay his life down to save his family. This is where Life really comes into his element like no other MC, his stories are well thought out and make sense. The production has those violins that tug at your heartstrings and the opening cuts of 'In the days of slavery' and later Chill Rob G's 'Treat him like an animal, forget he's a man' are perfectly chosen for the track. 

Trust is another slower tempoed track that uses vocal humming and squeals as well as the bass and drums for the composition. This track is about acts who do class A drugs before they get on stage and rap unintelligent stuff. 'Fame, money, drugs and material lust, in all these things so many rappers put their trust', is the chorus and I feel this is directed at some of today's bigger Rap stars. Later Life breaks down how this attitude can only lead to their downfall and destruction.

Time Crisis another message and warning track about the dangers of high tech science as well as the influence the Masons have on politicians. The sample Nappa uses is some famous classical track, not sure what it is - Tale of the Valkryie or something. Now I hear it, it sounds real nice, if a bit repetitive towards the end. As ever Life's delivery is on point.

Only the final outro Omega is not produced by Nappa, but instead it is DJ Mr Thing who laid down the beats. It is also Mr Thing who performs most of the cuts on the album, and very nice many of them are too. Overall then, this LP is a lot more solid that I had anticipated and although I had wondered whether Life could hold down an entire full length album virtually on his own, especially because of the incessant nature of his delivery, I think he does a good job and manages to change up more than I thought he would.

Zebra Traffic have made a good signing with these boys. They certainly have the drive and desire to make things happen for them in the music biz and are showing other acts the level of work and dedication one needs to put in to succeed. The cover artwork for the LP by Adam Farley is clean and simple and features several home photos of Life, Nappa and their surrounds. With a further Phi Life Cypher LP coming out later in the year lets hope that they don't burn out and use up their ideas too quickly.

 

Zebra Traffic Discography
Visit Zebra Traffic on the web:
www.zebratraffic.co.uk :: Email:[email protected] 
 
PO Box 2818, Brighton, BN1 4RL

Zebra Traffic
Intro Early Doors:
1979-1985
False Dawn:
1985-1990
Underground Years:
1990-1995
The Renaissance:
1995- 2000
The Future:
2000 & Beyond
Artists &
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