What defines a great emcee? That question is asked throughout the extent of J-Live’s The Best Part - at least that’s how it was intended to be. What is billed as The Best Part on two pieces of wax, is in fact J-Live’s long-awaited album, yet the running theme of asking the man on the street the above question, is absent. With the consistent string of bad luck J has had with labels over the years, and the everlasting delay of this album’s release - it seems that someone has taken matters into their own hands regarding this release - and has put it out “unofficially”.
Anxiously, the public can’t wait, wiggaz had to have it way before its release date. While previously leaked on the net, and now on wax, nobody will truly admit to who is responsible for releasing this album into the wild. While J-Live has had a string of bad luck since his early independent beginnings, despite the conflicting stories regarding this release, the artist has outsmarted everyone, and is laughing all the way to the bank. (Hint, hint.)
Whatever the case may be, the album is out now, and is ready for judgment, yet it’s a shame that these are the circumstances that this album had to come out by. Using London’s budget, J had enlisted an all-star team of producers, such as Prince Paul, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, & 88 Keys to handle his beats. Because the album was recorded with their money, it’s possible that this could be the only chance that it will have to get into the public’s hands.
While that lingering question is constantly asked, The Best Part is its answer, representing the birth of a great emcee. J-Live has earned that title, and in only a matter of time will be listed between your Common’s and De La Soul’s. As evidenced by his early live performances of “Braggin Writes”, J amazed crowds by rhyming, and simultaneously scratching the guitar sample in on the one and two. He further wowed listeners with “Them That’s Not” - detailing the rise and fall of a wack emcee, incredibly keeping up with a beat that changed tempos, coinciding with the roller coaster ride of that imaginary wack rapper’s career.
J’s creative mind doesn’t stop there either. On the 88 Keys’ produced “Don’t Play”, J flexes even more incredible mic control, by taking the foreign vocals of a Astrud Gilberto sample, and turning them into his own English by deceptively rhyming over them (ala A Tribe Called Quest’s “Find A Way”). Meanwhile, on conceptual songs like the Prince Paul produced “Wax Paper” and the Unspoken Heard featured Pete Rocker, “Kick It To The Beat”, J uses extended metaphors to tell tales about the life of a turntable, or falling in love with h.e.r.
Purists will appreciate J-Live’s release as it does return to the roots of the early nineties on tracks like the sarcastic “Yes” and bouncy “Got What It Takes”, if not for his thoughtfulness on more melancholy, yet moving selections, “Timeless” and “Get The Third”. The Premier produced “The Best Part” certainly lives up to its title, acting as the album’s proverbial cherry on top.
While J is still a rookie compared to some of his more seasoned forefathers, it’s not far off before he joins their ranks. He’s a very versatile emcee, yet the man behind the mic does still remain a mystery - hardly opening up as to who he really is, nor stretching out past topics other than the industry and hip-hop itself. He hasn’t reached the point where the listener hangs off of his every word yet, but shows tremendous potential for maturity.
Unlike many rappers in this game, the future is bright for J-Live, due to his undeniable talent, despite the incredible hardships that he has faced over the past five years. Although labels never know what to do with someone like J-Live, due to his “underground” labeling, eventually the right deal will come along and his time will surely come.
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