When you’ve out the loop for so long, it’s either hard comeback or bust. That’s exactly what he does with a two-part, dizzying tale of warding off a girlfriend’s stalker on “Pounds of Pressure.” The suspense mounts until it explodes into violence, spilling over into storytelling at a breakneck pace on “The Abyss.”
For the bulk of the project, Lif spends most of his time rhyming about self-betterment, battling his demons, and slaying the mic. “Everyday We Pray” finds a full-bellied man starving in an entirely different way. “Ever been so hungry that your eyes feel slumped in/Fridge full of food but your soul craving something,” he spits.
The struggle doesn’t get the last word, however. He finds ways to combat that those demons, not only through the power of prayer but through optimism and growth. On “Better Day,” he takes a timeout: “Take a deep breath, feel the heart inside your chest/Knowledge works in some mysterious ways, this is a test.” On “Let Go,” he focuses on bettering himself: “The goal is to search deeper and grow smarter and think harder/Plus avoidance of the grim reaper, you don’t need to be a martyr.” Dense drums and slow-paced, low-key production give Mr. Lif a platform for his musings on life. Meanwhile, the beat on “Pounds of Pressure” features an eerie bassline, and as the story intensifies on “The Abyss,” chaotic scratches and sped up drums pace the frantic narrative. Just like the lyrics, the instrumentals are carefully orchestrated to get Mr. Lif’s message across.
Unfortunately, his primary message is side-tracked during the latter half of the album. His “Whizdom” on the universe is straight out of left field, but you may not even notice his lyrics amidst the plodding, earsore of a beat. And while “Mission Accomplished” featuring his The Perceptions cohort Akrobatik features stellar hot-potato mic passing, it’s followed by “World Renown,” which is lacking in the double entendre department to live up to its title.
Albums are not required to stick to a singular topic, but when the album returns to its primary soul-searching theme on “Ill,” Lif professes “I got so many things on my mind.” The album would have been better spent if he had explored his fascinating psyche for another track or two than varied the album with “Whizdom” and “World Renown.”
Still, by the self-titled album’s closer, Lif’s message is back in 20/20: the importance of finding a way to make it through the hardships of life. As he spits on the title track, “If you’re feeling so lost that you can’t be found/Don’t look down.” For him, it’s music, as on the same track he spits: “Thank God I found my home in sound.”
Thankfully for us he did. Despite it’s flaws, Don’t Look Down is a captivating foray into the struggles of humanity and the way to overcome them.