Brooklyn’s J-Live is probably the only guy in hip-hop today who can keep it real for keeping it real’s sake. The epitome of indie hip-hop, J-Live shows that he can push boundaries forward and keep it simple at the same time. Straight from opener “Here,” he exhibits how much of a renaissance man he is on his latest release, The Hear After. This particular track is merely the beginning, but starts off well with the funksters from Soulive as J-Live turns out his lyrical flow to the max.
When I heard the jazzy funk of “Do My Thing” I assumed that Soulive was on this track as well but it turns out that they were not. Either which way though, this is John Blazin’ as it comes off as somewhat club friendly while J uses clever terms like “unfuckwitable.” Meanwhile, the street smart thrust of “Harder” will be sure to get any party bumpin’. Those familiar with J-Live’s previous albums won’t be disappointed when to hear that he has still retained his proclivity for some deep philosophizing on “Audio Visual” and tells it like it is about the current state of civic demise and property taxes with “Brooklyn Public, Part 1.”
The track “Listening” with up and coming soul sister Kola Rock is utterly amazing, though. On it, Kola and J go into how important listening to music from before their time was to them and pays all due respects and homage to the greats of soul, funk, jazz, R&B and everything else in between. It brings you back to the scene in the Spike Lee flick, Do The Right Thing, in which Samuel L. Jackson in the role of the DJ Mister Señor Love Daddy gives thanks to a laundry list of musicians that matter for “making our day just a little bit brighter.”
These days rappers disgrace themselves and the genre by focusing too heavily on bling, mansions, rent-a-hoes and all other elements of materialism in which has plagued the hip hop culture. However, when the underground rappers are distraught, they try to prove too hard that they are from the underground. This is not the case with J-Live. His tunes remain simple and innovative while his lyrical delivery system has him stacking up words like a game of Jenga. He refrains from coming off as arrogant, yet The Hear After is evidence that hip hop with class still lives on.
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