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Facelift Best Served Cold

Blessed be the hip-hop student who takes his music travails seriously, for it is he who will uncover the absolute truths surrounding us -- that aren't truly in plain view. Example: Rappers are not always what they say they are. Furthermore, rappers aren't always what they believe they are either so it can be a thorny issue to prod one about what he thinks he is, and how that might compare to what he actually is.

I'm getting high-minded here, but the brotherhood of rapkind is replete with contradictions. I listen to Dipset and sport white shorties on the arm. Team Facelift is the New York rap group that understands how entertaining these clashes can be and their upcoming album Mixed Emotions is the nod to that. We chopped it up in yet another cloudy, cough-inducing room for a chess match between the self-aware.

I entered the room of FatJew, Team Facelift's mascot of sorts, by stepping over a dog gate. He's a beast with unkempt fro and oddball sense of humor. He greeted me with excitement saying it was good to link. Alden and Machine make up the rest of this group of Upper Crust rappers, raised in the better parts of Manhattan island. "People think because we're from the Upper East and West Side, that we don't really do this shit...or that to us it's a joke." Funny thing is, they have made it a joke where they intend for the last laugh. Here's a few clips from my meeting with Team Facelift of New York City...

Team Facelift On Lyrics

Alden: There's too much metaphor. A lot of dudes wanna be this lyrical assassin. I think that's wack. Too many lyrical assassins out there.

Machine: Don't get it twisted, though. That's why we do this. I think we'd be clowns if we didn't pay attention to our lyrics...that's what this shit is about.

FatJew On Mixed Emotions

FatJew: We named [the album] this because it's like the feeling you get when you look in the mirror and say 'That guy's cute. No homo.' Or when you have a orgy with some sluts that leads to your crew coppin' Valtrex in the aftermath. Or when you wonder why you rap...

Alden: Right at the tip of [both] the Glamor Life and being totally pathetic. Say what you feel 'cause rap isn't all about ice and stuntin' hard but that's what rappers present to you. We wanted to show both sides of the story.

Machine: We're from good families and we lived on the Upper East and Upper West Side when we grew up but that doesn't mean we don't get down for ours.

Team Facelift On Authenticity

Machine: A while ago "Mass Appeal" magazine had us to a photoshoot and we're hyped thinking 'this is gonna be good for us' but they had us posing in clothes like us being rappers was a joke. You can't knock the publicity but it's like c'mon...

Alden: There's a lot of creativity in what we do but it seems only a certain amount of that is allowed [in hip-hop] so we are careful to remember that people view us a white rappers when we come on stage.

FatJew: And there's a point in our stage -- it's almost too wild out -- when you can be saying 'this is life-changing shit and I love it' or 'pause. what the fuck are these guys doing? that shit is stupid?'

Machine: We're poking fun at all the cliches in rap but being ourselves at the same time. It's the same as [the verse] embellishing how good you are. Everything we say in our songs really happened...getting girls coked up, I keep it real about that. That line in "Only 17" 'I took her home and fucked her on a bed of lyrics,' that really happened.

FatJew: I'm definitely eating brunch in the tub with my turban on and I do think thick turtlenecks are the jumpoff.

Team Facelift On Hip-Hop Shows

Alden: We never play at underground hip hop shows. Everyone kind of stands around with their heads in their hands waiting for you to impress them.

FatJew: The music is for you to get the fuck up and dance not for you to nod your head or be like 'ohhhh.' Casual rap fans and music fans don't want that. It's a different scene.

Several blunts in, I'm started to feel like I get these guys. Beyond the fresh beats and outrageous lyrics exists a need to set the group apart from the stale shit so often in the underground suggestion box. And no one uses rap as an instrument of satire or irony so I recognize the originality in taking this bold step at the risk of seeming too image-conscious. But the phrase "take yourself too seriously" begins to appear more often than not, leading me to believe (on some Mixed Emotions shit) that they do take themselves seriously. Unlike the gimmicky rappers flooding the scene with too much disregard for the form, they have managed to keep some of the rudiments of dopeness intertwined with outwardly silly behavior.

Team Facelift On Taking It Back

FatJew: We wanna take it back to Dinkins-era shit. Like when the Mets were still good...when you could still get beat up for rockin' certain shit.

Machine: Before New York was all cute and clubby.

Alden On Selling the Album

Alden: We're making the music for 17-year-old girls because, fuck what you heard, they're the ones buying the music. They may not be all 'hiphoppedout' but they're the ones dancing to the shit.

Good point. Except the fact that I'm feeling the shit too. I have heard their music and think that it's both danceable and good for rap. Even in the face of people in my immediate circle questioning why I endorse these guys when they've started beef with Immortal Technique, fired their former manager Ben Lyons as he stoked his rise to Hollywood Status and pissed off every legit rap group in their path, I can only say listen to the music.

Fireside Tracks from TF: "Only 17" "Dippin' Chicken" "Mixed Emotions" can all be found on You can also check out the link to their video "Sexual Perversions."


Not to be an ass but this was bound to happen the way guy pushed the envelope. Respect due though because he entertained alot of us for years...and I may have actually learned something about reptiles. God bless the dead.

Voyage to Atlantis...Attica?

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