"If they had to write a book about your life, would anybody read it?" J-Live's life, better yet his career has certainly resembled a Hollywood script of some sorts, full of ups and downs, pitfalls, closed corners and dead ends. Certainly a book could be devote to J-Live's endeavors involving the music business and as Q-Tip once brilliantly said, and J-Live has found out the hard way, "Record companies are shady". So after numerous delays, bootlegs, cancellations and any other means of destruction, J-Live has finally released his "first official pressing and release of a body of work" entitled "The Best Part".
Technically, "The Best Part" is J-Live's first officially released album, however, those who may not know, the album isn't really a debut of sorts. Instead it is a collection of J-Live's finest material he has put together over the years and as J-Live puts it "most of the songs were written between 1995 and 1998. However, from the first to last verse, it reaches as far back as 1988 and stretches forward up to 2001". And as you can tell, "The Best Part" has been long overdue, but definitely worth the wait.
"The Best Part" does not fit into today's typical breed of albums these days. All of the aspects that encompass rap today will not be found on "The Best Part". Thankfully "The Best Part" is a blast from the past of some sorts. The album mirrors more of an early to mid nineties feel than anything, thanks to its melodic and funky production and J-Live's head smart lyricism. Now one may ask how can an album resemble a certain time period when its release is almost a decade later. However, the influence is simply pungent right from the start. The influence bursts out from the seams from many of the tracks old school influenced hooks, J-Live's rhyme scheme and the productions overall feel.
The beauty of "The Best Part" is its ability to entertain and stay varied at all levels. Each track brings something new and innovative to the table. "Vampire Hunter J" is an original and innovative concept complete with spectacular production from J-Live and Grap Luva. The production is hard, but not grimy, typical street enthused NYC material, but isn't over burdensome and boring. Besides the production, which always seems to stand out, J-Live is a beast of the microphone. As one of the underground's finest lyricists and all around complete emcees, J is guaranteed to rip up a track every time. "Timeless" is a smooth, insightful look into life and its struggles and hardships. J reminisces about his life with precise wordplay and charisma on the mic. "School's In Remix" is a head nodding, car thumping J-Live and 88 Keys produced track. J destroys the vicious, battle-influenced track with ease thanks to some superior lyricism.
As mentioned, variety is never at a minimum on "The Best Part". Looking for some of that classic silky smooth, jazz influenced tracks? Look no further than J-Live's crusades on the laid back "Got What It Takes", the brilliant 88 Keys production of "Don't Play" and the old school tactics of "Yes!". Once again J takes it to a different level on "The Best Part" with the blazin "R.A.G.E.", which is an acronym for, Ruler Allah is God's Equality. The track features an insightful and deep look into J's beliefs. The track's message stands out above all as J-Live spits about his frustrations with society as a whole.
"Ghettos where governments hold everything that you own to a level where your poverty prone…when my brothers stay physically and mentally trapped in the cage, my heart builds up with what, Rage!".
Three of the biggest production names in Hip-Hop history also drop by and bless J-Live with some truly spectacular production. "Kick It To The Beat" is the Pete Rock and J-Live produced track that showcases a classic Pete Rock utilization of kicks and snares blended to perfection. J along will Asheru and Probe.dms perfectly blend together and feed off of the tracks classic soul brother feel and deliver an unforgettable experience. None other than the legendary DJ Premier produces the title track "The Best Part", and as expected Primo laces the track to perfection with his utterly amazing techniques while J performs a lyrical massacre. "For a artform to spread from East to Westside the coast the hemisphere, look how hip-hop grew. But it's still the proverbial sad clown of music. Exploited by many, understood by few". However, the albums finest moment comes from the classic Prince Paul production on "Wax Paper". Prince Paul definitely showcases his unique production style through a variety of brilliantly utilized samples throughout the track. "Wax Paper" is a classic showcase for Prince Paul and J-Live who rips the track with his amazing, storytelling ability. J shows his versatility and proves he is more than a one-dimensional emcee and puts forth an amazing storytelling track few can pull off these days.
While "The Best Part" maybe one of the most completely entertaining albums to come out in the past year, there are some minimal flaws. Most of the flaws on "The Best Part" are minuscule in comparison to the overall product. However, some of the tracks accompanying hooks leave much to be desired, as seen on "True School Anthem". However, the only remotely questionable track featured on the album is the awkwardly put together "Them That's Not". J-Live puts to use his impressive but questionable double timed flow over some simplistic production which generates faster and slower to compliment J's flow. Even though the double timed flow is impressive and shows his versatility, the track still ends up as mediocre.
Without a doubt "The Best Part" is one of the finest albums from beginning to end to be released in the past year. Its ability to capture Hip-Hop at its essence is uncanny and is definitely going to be hailed as an underground classic for years to come. After all these years, J-Live has never failed to deliver and in the end "The Best Part" is everything we hoped and dreamed we would experience from J. And while "The Best Part" was long overdue, it serves as only the appetizer for what is to come in the future for J-Live.