Monday, May 11, 2009

Demo Week, Day 4: L.I.F.E. Long

L.I.F.E. Long gave me this back in 1998. Even if you don't recognize the name, you surely have at least a few albums he's done guest verses on, because this Brooklyn MC has done enough to rival Canibus or Grand Puba. Eventually, he'd start putting out his own material independently, but this demo shows he was working on his own material even back in the 90's. If you need catching up, drop by his myspace.

Now, this is a four-song tape, and I'm pretty sure none of it has ever been released. I was meeting Thirstin Howl III, and L.I.F.E. was rolling with him and hit me up with this demo. He was changing his name to Major Thoughts at the time, but I guess in he decided to stick with L.I.F.E. Long (probably because that name was just starting to get some recognition), because this demo is the last time I've seen him referred to as Major Thoughts.

The first song is "One Voice in a Billion," produced by DJ Pistol Pete. It's a dope number and a good opener, but sometimes the the engaging Spanish guitar and horn samples are so strong, you completely lose the vocals. I don't mean in terms of volume, but just the liveliness of the music completely distracts you from the MC... you could listen to this ten times in a row and still have no idea what L.I.F.E. was rapping about (I'm sure whatever record they were originally sampling never had vocals in front of it). But, it's interesting stuff, so... fortunately for you readers, I'm a dedicated reviewer who made a point of paying attention. They're still a little confusing, but are essentially about his poetry heralding a revolutionary uprising. Here's the first verse:

"Similar to fire,
These thoughts burns within kingdoms.
Steps are drastic.
Categorize the poet as a great, classic
That accumulates evidence in abundance,
While meditating in survival tunnels.
It's years of patience
That'll form a revolution in the making
With one thought:
Annihilate an entire sick nation.
So in touch with my past life,
My actions or maneuvers;
Multiple contusions
On a misunderstood ruler.
Forms of expression is now in question,
Poetry in its rarest state is manifestin' into a universal nuclear weapon
That breaks down the anatomy on chemical contact.
It's more than combat that contains physical vengeance.
The silent war's
Really relentless and never endless;
Shootin' bullets that the man-made commandment, tryin' to correct this
Insane format, introduced to time's existence,
Staying consistent,
On a level non-comprehended.
Speak out on secrets in a coded dialogue created divinely,
Designed precisely to expose the world fraud.
Only one voice in a billion."

Now, after the first that song, the following songs are unmastered. And you notice that fact the most on this second song, "Finally." It's produced by Game (7) 12th Round. Huh? Anyway, that's what he wrote on the sleeve. it's got some engaging string samples, but at certain points in the song, they used vocal samples from speeches, and you just cannot make out what's being said. Presumably an official version, had it ever been released, would've cleared that up.

Third is "For the Safety of My Wisdom" ("wisdom" as in mother), and it's as sappy slash pretentious as you'd expect from a title like that. It features an R&B hook and some slow production which isn't bad... I could see some rap fans really getting behind a song like this. But me, I just skip this shit. ;)

Finally, the last one is probably the most interesting. First of all, it's a duet with Mr. Malik of Illegal. Remember when they were big for a minute? And then, after that, Jamal put out a nice single and Malik went down South and appeared on the Sic-Wid-It compilation album, DownSouth Huslters? Well, this is actually a remix of that song, now featuring L.I.F.E. Long. While the original version of "Big Bank" was produced by Sam Bostic, this mix is produced by Meech. It's a cool mix of high quality Sic-Wid-It-style production and the two MCs getting creative with their flow to match it, while doing the east coast NY lyrical thing as a contrast. Unfortunately, they don't do that last part nearly enough. But it's still a cool little number... certainly different.

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