Emergency Rations (EP)

by Mr. Lif

(Definitive Jux, 2002)

Emergency Rations is a concept album centered around the story of Mr. Lif's fictional kidnapping, presumably by government agents. The album showcases Lif's defiant perspective on civil rights, censorship, and U.S. foreign policy, as he raps about societal ills such as gender socialization, the vapid state of pop culture, and the dehumanizing effects of capitalism. 

Lif's thoughtful, confrontational lyrics are backed by Akrobatik and El-P's dissonant production.

The album received positive reviews from music critics. Nathan Rabin of The A.V. Club praised its "solid blast of social consciousness" and wrote that the EP has "a raw, unfinished quality that more than lives up to the urgency of its title."

Allmusic's Martin Woodside called Lif "a thoughtful, often incendiary lyricist" and gave Emergency Rations four out of five stars, calling it "a provocative, well-crafted album that proves hard to ignore."

Robert Christgau of The Village Voice found him to be a "funny" and "angry guy", and gave Emergency Rations an "A–", indicating "the kind of garden-variety good record that is the great luxury of musical micromarketing and overproduction. Christgau wrote that Lif uses the EP as both a set up for his subsequent concept album, I Phantom (2002), and as "an excuse to drop random science about the place of hip hop in the military-industrial complex."