producers: pete rock, dj premier, prince paul, 88 keys, grap luva, j-live, chris catalyst, dj spinna, emmai alaquiva.

guests: asheru of the unspoken heard, probe.dms of cvees.
year of release: 2002
click for explanation
1. Outside Looking
2. Intro
3. Got What It Takes
4. Don't Play
5. Vampire Hunter J
6. Yes!

7. Them That's Not

8. Kick It To The Beat feat. Asheru of The Unspoken Heard, Probe.dms of CVEES
9. Wax Paper
10. Timeless
11. Get The Third
12. School's In Remix
13. R.A.G.E.
14. True School Anthem
15. Inside Looking Outro
16. The Best Part
17. Play
18. Braggin' Writes Revisited
19. Epilogue


The Best Part

"For underground metaphors, you could scrape an inch below the turf for what it's worth / my style's been developed in the core of the earth / the exhale is volcanic, the inhale is seismic / so brothers just panic when the Live one arrives" so J-Live opens the here revisited classic "Braggin' Writes", the one track that initially brought J to our attention. Ours as well as to the attention one of some labels, with one then having him record this album, which however only now celebrates its first official release, after there has been an 'official bootleg' on vinyl last year. Hence this record is old. Yes, as J writes in the cover himself, this albums creation started back in 1995, it was on the verge of completion in 1997 and was supposed to be released in 1999. What was also around the time when this magazine sat down with J-Live and talked about it. And what was supposed to be called "The Best Part" back then, is still today called "The Best Part".

This album is one of few, where you just want to sit still and listen. Listen to what the emcee has to say, as you never really know what comes next. That makes the album just the more exciting and adds an appeal that too many other records lack. J-Live is able to make every track exciting and interesting in an abundance amount of various ways. And it's a simple sign of pure quality, when you can buy this album today and it's still fresh. With a lot being due to the incredible lyrics that make J-Live be one of the best emcees, who however is tragically under-mentioned when it comes to name the best rhyme smiths. But those that know, know, and they agree with J: "I got Allah's street knowledge plus a college degree / I got props as a DJ and a true emcee / I got grown ass men trying to be my clone / I got nuff respect in every time zone".

And if you don't have much time to be convinced, then simply listen to "Them That's Not", a lyrical masterpiece, where the beats by Grap Luva speeds up and at one time settles into one pace. And that change from going faster to finding the rhythm to settle in, that moment is one amazing, immaculate lyrical moment. But also the words that are surrounding it are nothing short of brilliant: "once upon a time there was a brother named Castro / had a little problem with his cash flow, word / more than once upon a time he had a dream to clock mad dough / only at the time it all seemed absurd / then he saw a light bulb flash up on his forehead, shined so bright he had to close both eyes". Another great lyrical moment can be found on "Wax Paper", where J uses DJ rhetoric to tell a thug story. What then sounds something like this: "very few crossed the line and made it, without a scratch / for every new batch, there was a new catch / often people asked Nic, why his revolver wouldn't stop / he replied 'everybody wants me in a coffin' / this pitch ass tried to get live at a red light / he received 33 from a 45".

But this short paragraph could never pay tribute to the dopeness of the lyrics. We however also gotta give props to the booming aspect of the album, cause on the beat tip, J-Live acquired the services of 88 Keys, Grap Luva, Pete Rock, Prince Paul, DJ Spinna, DJ Premier as well as J of course, to just mention the well known. And there's no track that is weak on here (just the singing on "Don't Play" is annoying) and very few got a blatant from years back sound (like "Intro" and "Yes!"). Hence a "Timeless" is just that, with Chris Catalysts creating something incredible smooth and miraculously dope. And even Pete Rock is exchanging his boom bap with something more relaxed on "Kick It To The Beat", a non-vinyl track that features Asheru of The Unspoken Heard and Probe.dms of CVEES, who are two of the few guests featured. Then there's also the rather hard "School's In" and "Epilogue", that both are not on the vinyl as well.

"See at the date of this writing, yo my shit's on hold / but at the date of this writing, I'm predicted gold / if five hundred thousand love real rhymes and beats / I'll be half way to platinum when it hits the streets" J says. And all the true hip hop heads should go and buy this record, because it is darn good and you'll enjoy it. But also to prove all those wack labels that had it on their shelf but failed to release it wrong, that the audience is actually demanding this kind of quality hip hop. That it's them that straight up failed. Support J-Live and you support someone that had to fight for his material to be heard. Not because it was wack, but because it was too good, too real, too honest. Hence, and unfortunately this sounds corny, but it's very true, if you support this record, you support everything that real hip hop stands for.

review: tadah

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