6 October, 2011@3:01 pm
J-Live has been around seemingly forever. Yet while some consider 2001’s The Best Part to be a classic and this reviewer thinks of “Satisfied” off 2002’s All of the Above to be one of hip-hop’s best songs (and surely the best post-9/11 anthem in any genre), his career has been kind of a mishmash of EPs and albums that didn’t make quite the same impact.
His latest album, S.P.T.A. (Said Person of That Ability) isn’t a far cry from what he was doing 10 years ago. It’s a purist hip-hop sound with lots of DJ-scratched hooks and 90s-style East Coast beats. S.P.T.A. is entirely harmless, relatively enjoyable and doesn’t break the formula of what to expect from the man.
S.P.T.A. is billed as a concept album, showing off the “triple threat” of J’s respective talents of each emcee, deejay, and producer, here broken up into three split personalities. Yet the concept doesn’t quite come through as intended. On “No Time to Waste”, for instance, he tosses the mic back and forth between him and … himself, but there is no distinction between the two voices aside from an effect on the mic. It’s not a case where he is juxtaposing two sides of himself. Not to mention, there are also a number of different producers on S.P.T.A. other than just J.
While J is a great emcee, and he plainly makes the case for that here, he rarely ventures outside this topic on S.P.T.A. After being so smartly and subversively political on the aforementioned “Satisfied,” we’ve come to expect more. Still, there’s nothing about the album that lacks quality. It’s all hovering at a certain level, with songs like “How I Feel Pt. 3” and “Great Expectations” standing out.
S.P.T.A. is palatable if you’re in the mood for some good old-fashioned straightforward hip-hop, but those expecting some of the more weightier topics covered in previous entries in J-Live’s catalog might be a bit let down.
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