Jeffrey Haynes (born 11 December 1977), better known by his stage name Mr. Lif, is an American hip hop artist from Boston, Massachusetts. Often noted for his political lyrics, he has released two studio albums on Definitive Jux and one on Bloodbot Tactical Enterprises. Mr. Lif is also a member of the hip hop group The Perceptionists with long-time friends and collaborators Akrobatik and DJ Fakts One.
Mr. Lif, born Jeffrey Haynes, grew up in the neighborhood of Brighton in Boston, Massachusetts. After attending the Dedham, MA private school Noble and Greenough School, he went on to attend Colgate University for two years, and he eventually dropped out. He became a performer in 1994. Mr. Lif's family ancestry is Bajan.
Haynes adopted the stage name "Mr. Lif" after ingesting hallucinogenic mushrooms at an outdoor Phish concert during his freshman year at Colgate University in 1994. He imagined a fictional character called The Liftedly Man while under the influence, which gave way to "Mr. Lif". He later said in an interview for the Times Colonist: "I don't know any Phish songs. I went to the show, and I still don't know anything about them now."
Influenced by legendary MCs like Chuck D, KRS One, Rakim & Guru, Mr. Lif began releasing singles in the late '90s, when party rap and gangsta rap were the dominant styles for hip hop music, but Mr. Lif's lyrical agenda was a political and socially conscious one. Mr. Lif released his first single, Elektro, in 1998, attracting the attention of labels Grand Royal and Definitive Jux. Working closely with producer and Definitive Jux label head El-P, Lif released a series of critically acclaimed singles and EPs, starting with Enters the Colossus in 2000. In 2000 and 2001, he won the Kahlua Boston Music Awards for Outstanding Rap/Hip Hop Act. Touring kept him busy for the next year, but he still found time to release the Cro-Magnon single and a live CD. His track "Pull Out Your Cut" was featured in the soundtrack to the ESPN Video Game ESPN NFL 2K5.
In 2002, Mr. Lif released a pair of concept releases. The Emergency Rations EP bookended collaborations with Edan and Akrobatik in an MC abduction scenario, while the I Phantom full-length formed a saga that led him from birth to apocalypse. He revisited his Akrobatik collaboration in 2005, when the pair joined producer DJ Fakts One to form The Perceptionists, who released Black Dialogue, also on Definitive Jux. One year later, he returned with Mo' Mega, his follow-up to I Phantom, featuring eight productions from El-P and features from Murs, Aesop Rock, and Blueprint. Mr. Lif has also collaborated with Otis Grove, Thievery Corporation and Anomie Belle.
I Heard It Today was released on Bloodbot Tactical Enterprises in 2009. Mr Lif embraced I Heard It Today using the album as a tool to address various political issues affecting people all over the world. I Heard It Today is the third full-length studio album by Mr. Lif. The album was released on April 21, 2009 on Mr. Lif's own label Bloodbot Tactical Enterprises. Mr. Lif has stated that the album is "dedicated to capturing the pulse of this tumultuous era we're living through."
2001 Boston Music Awards
The 2001 Boston Music Awards were held at the Orpheum Theatre on Thursday April 19, the evening was hosted by MTV VJ Dave Holmes. Taking home two awards apiece were Aimee Mann and Mr. Lif. Mann won Female Vocalist of the Year and Song of the Year (Save Me). Mr. Lif won Outstanding Rap/Hip-Hop Act and Outstanding Rap/Hip-Hop Album (Enters the Colossus).
The Perceptionists are a rap group composed of rappers Akrobatik (born Jared Bridgeman) and Mr. Lif (Jeffrey Haynes) and DJ Fakts One (Jason Goler), based in Boston, MA. Friends since their early days, the trio first started working together on Fakts One's college radio show in the late '90s, formally adopting the name the Perceptionists in 2000. A 2004 mixtape called The Razor was the trio's underground bow, before the official debut Black Dialogue was released in early 2005. All three members have had exemplary solo careers thus far, and are still making music: some of their more acclaimed releases include Lif's I, Phantom and Emergency Rations (both on Definitive Jux); Akrobatik's stellar 2003 full-length debut Balance (on Coup D'État); and Fakts, currently working on his solo debut, is featured on all aforementioned releases, plus his own party-moving singles, like "The Show Starter" (Coup D'État).