Released on Mello Music Group, Resolution is one of those timeless records. The first full-length from Mr. Lif & Akrobatik (The Perceptionists) in a dozen years (Black Dialogue was released on El-P’s Def Jux imprint) reflects the struggles and near-death sagas that struck Mr. Lif and Akrobatik. During that span, Lif miraculously survived his tour bus plummeting over a cliff and bursting into flames. Akrobatik weathered a sudden aortic rupture and emergency open-heart surgery. The impact of those experiences forced the former Def Jux duo to contemplate fate, luck, and their own place within a world spinning out of control.
But their ability to survive has allowed them to thrive. They’ve harnessed a radiant hard-won optimism that refuses to flinch from the evils of existence. From the album’s first track, “Early Mourning,” Akrobatik asserts that courage comes from within, but reflects on the millions of young black men sent to premature graves. He considers whether gang affiliation is inherent in their souls, or more likely, whether things would be different if these neighborhoods were well lit and effectively policed.
If turmoil and inequity currently track the globe at record levels, Lif’s verses seem more prophetic than ever. His verses offer searing indictments of corporate and political corruption: corporations oppressing local farms, governmental duplicity in dealing with big pharmaceutical companies, and the crooked brutality of cops who get away with shooting unarmed black men.
On “Hose Down,” (the first video from Resolution) the pair brilliantly intersperse news reports from the MLK-led Birmingham protests of 1963 with the internecine problems of the present—where a traffic stop can still lead to a funeral. It’s as poignant of a polemic as you’ll find but blended with a danceable Caribbean lilt. The video for “Hose Down” is directed by Malcolm Critcher, who is also working with John Singleton on his new show, Snowfall, which premieres on FX on 7-5-17.
With the Perceptionists, the personal is political and vice-versa. Akrobatik rhymes about his “desire to breathe in the sun before my skin dries out” but still refuses to be “the coward in a pretend hide out.”
It’s music from deep in the trenches, songs that confront the blitzkrieg of bad news but offer light at the end of the bombardment. If you listen closely, you can intuit a profound story of friendship and camaraderie between Lif and Akrobatik—lifelong friends trading bars with the chemistry of Tip and Phife, Andre and Big Boi, Erick and Parrish. They’re mortal men who made mistakes, gained experience, and obtained wisdom. This is Resolution.