Artist: J-LiveTitle: Always Will BeRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Toshitaka Kondo
Whos J-Live? Hes could be the best rapper who youve never heard of. The Source Unsigned Hype alum has all the symptoms of the good rapper, bad luck syndrome. A heavily praised, yet bootlegged and unreleased debut, The Best Part. His nomadic label situation. And the is he still rhyming? look that 97% of hip-hop heads give when his name is mentioned. Leaving Coup dEtat, who released last years All Of The Above LP, hes returned with the Always Will Be EP through Fat Beats. Although his delivery lacks the intensity displayed on Braggin Writes, he still personifies a true MC.
Whether speaking on industry ills (Car Trouble) or self-imposed isolation (Walkman Music), J-Lives talent as a writer is evident. On the former, the ex-educator uses clever car analogies to school an aspiring MC about potential music industry hurdles. Even with bad experiences, hes not the madd rapper. As he says on Deal Widit, Dont get it twisted/ I wasnt drafted into this life, I enlisted.
Although his conceptual work is imaginative, he still has the ability to just spit. Riding a jazzy piano loop on 9000 Miles, his rhymes seems endless: I get on the mic and strive to be the best/But its not just a flow theres more to the test/I gotta spit like theres no time to waste/Spit like I cant take away this life taste/Spit for rebellion/Spit for resistance/Spit for accuracy/Spit for distance. Elsewhere, the hard horns and battle rhymes of Get Live justify the last four letters of his name.
With eight tracks, his chances of missing are slim. However, his calm delivery on Deal Widit, doesnt get across how stressful time constraints are. Also, Stunt 101 disciples may complain about the scarcity of club bangers. Then again, he makes it clear that If you sittin on chrome and its spinnin when youre not, this is not for you. Maybe its best that he remain an underground hero. Listening to Always Will Be, this would probably suit J-Live just fine.