J-live, if ever there’s an emcee that has paid his dues over the last few years its this guy while releasing 12" after 12" for Raw Shack and a bad deal to match he’s had to wait this long to get a full length album out. I remember hearing ‘Braggin Writes’ when it first came out and thought it was the shit, it still holds well 5 years on. Those of you expecting all of J-lives tracks like ‘Longevity’ and ‘Shyste’ may be disappointed to find out they don’t make it to this album but along with a few old gems (Including ‘Braggin writes’) there’s a whole load of new material to get into. I’ve had a long time to listen to this album since I got the advance a few months ago and if possible I’d prefer to review albums this way all the time. The true test of a hip-hop LP is the ability for it to stand the test of time, so does ‘The best Part’ manage this?
What’s interesting is that this album follows a theme in the skits, nothing new? Yeah but at least its done right, throughout the album you get the sound bites known as ‘The great Emcee’ parts 1-7 where we are in pursuit of what makes a great master of ceremonies. You actually have to get through a few interludes/skits before you get to the first track but at least they are enjoyable, the take on a wildlife documentary that zooms in on the creature known as the emcee is perfect. Your thrown straight into ‘Got what it takes’ a nice album opener that sets the pace for what the rest of the LP holds. Even if you’ve never heard J-Live before this should sum up what he’s about and how lyrically apt he is, J-Live IS the emcees emcee.
‘Don’t play’ is some wicked shit as it takes a Latin feel in the music, J-live ad-libs the end of each of his lines and seems to love singing along with that hook. ‘That’s them not’ is standing out because of its switching in speed with a horn weaving in and out J-Live adjusts his flow and approach as the track changes pace. Other honorable mentions to check out on this album include ‘Raw footage’, ‘wax paper’ and ‘vampire hunter’. The album closes with that classic I mentioned earlier, that’s right ‘Braggin Writes’ finishes where J-Live started and like ‘That’s them not’ takes on a simplistic but original twist to production with its scratched loop. And if you think J-Live has spent all this time getting to be a great emcee then check this to see what he was doing all those years ago.
So what are is the Best Part of this album? I’m undecided on whether the previously mentioned ‘Don’t play’ is the highlight or the DJ Premier produced title track. Before you think I’m on Primo’s nuts, he does leave one of his best beats as a calling card but what makes this track incredible is the way J-Live goes accapella with the lines "East to west / I’m a contender with the best/ and more or less/ you a pretender just confess / sell your mic and buy a bike because your weak/ or take a hike when the J-Live starts to speak/ save that shit for the toilet and watch me flush / my styles a snow blizzard and yours is just the slush / My rhymes a redwood tree and your just sawdust/ I’m like a pizza and your just the crust." It’s at this precise moment as the track comes back in you realise how perfect that was executed and the way he does it with such force and bringing the track back in with ease. This is an emcee in his element.
What’s the worst part? It would have gotten a 10 if it was all good right? Well some of the tracks can get a little mediocre compared with the display of intelligence and heavy beats of the others that surround it but what I may consider nothing new you may find to be the greatest recording to ever bless your ears. When I first heard this 25 track debut from J-Live I was impressed, I was more than impressed, I thought we had another ‘Illmatic’ on our hands but unfortunately familiarity soon wears that novelty of new music away. I definitely advise you to go out and buy this when it drops because its undoubtedly one of the years best releases and definitely the best debut I heard in a long time.