Choose Life

"Every day, religiously, I'm working lyrically to refine my rhyming artillery"

Double-yay with bells on for this one. Life is the UK's king of the simile, a hero of the old school and, no question, an all-round general favourite of ours. He might be 35 now, but he's still angry, aware, conscious, considerate and, quite properly, a hater of all those rappers who, to coin a rather fetching phrase, are "wacker than Younis". So if you thought the Phi-Life Cypher man's second solo album, "Realities Of Life", was pretty great then you (a) were right, and (b) will enjoy this third one, "Outside Looking In", fresh out on Zebra Traffic.

If, on the other hand, you were never lucky enough to hear "What Our Estates Have Become" et al, then we honestly think you should investigate: Life (now without the question mark) packs comment, observation, extended metaphors - it's all words, beautiful words - into every song: it's about the message, and thanks to DJ Nappa it's one that's delivered over easy-to-love loops and beats. Only albums like "Original Gangsta" or "From Enslavement To Obliteraton" can match it in terms of the sheer *volume* of common sense talked: from his pride in his kids, through how he listened to John Peel as a teenager in prison, to the impassioned "What's Going On", a closer that thankfully deals sanely with Islamophobia, "Outside Looking In" is not only tough enough, but also not a little inspirational.

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