Mr. Lif and Akrobatik (The Perceptionists), “Resolution”

Mr. Lif & Akrobatik (The Perceptionists)
Resolution
MELLO MUSIC GROUP
7/10

Mr. Lif and Akrobatik have been through a lot in the dozen years since they (along with DJ Fakts One) first released an LP together as The Perceptionists. In that time, the Boston hip-hop duo has collectively survived a fiery tour-bus crash (Lif) and open-heart surgery (Akrobatik). Lif has talked in interviews about how his experience changed his priorities. Where he used to spend his waking hours being angry at politicians and consuming the news 24/7, he now allows himself time to focus more on his friends, family, and community. Akrobatik has mentioned staying positive and valuing each day more than he ever has. But all of those things aren’t mutually exclusive, and the two of them are not checked out—far from it. Resolution is the result of the newfound balance in their lives as they devote their attention to love and to justice equally, and the album’s title reflects that commitment in one word.

Resolution isn’t anything we haven’t heard before, but that’s exactly what necessitates it. It’s hard to focus on something new when old problems never seem to go away. There’s a reason why, in 2017, rappers are using audio from protests in 1963: to examine if things have gotten worse instead of better. “Hose Down” compares the civil-rights fight of the ’60s to today’s police brutality, where fire hoses have been replaced with guns: “Hands up / But the cops just shoot us now […] Got me thinkin’ it was better when they—”

The lyrics on Resolution are straightforward and crystal clear, and the flow is measured and expertly tight. There’s an apparent marriage of natural talent and decades of hard work—Lif and Akrobatik are pros. They’ve made sure that nothing obscures the message anywhere, whether it’s political or self-reflective. Again, that Venn diagram overlaps heavily, and the two succeed in driving that point home. With Resolution, Mr. Lif and Akrobatik have created urgent poetry that you’ll be revisiting on purpose. To echo “Free at Last,” one of the album’s standouts, “Go ahead and hit ’em with that old-time rhyme / Make people rewind to hear it more times.”

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