Since the mid-90s, the multi-talented J-Live has remained one of Hip Hop’s purest examples of the “true school” aesthetic that the rapper, producer and DJ has promoted over the course of his long and still blossoming career. However, that said blossoming could be seen by the inattentive as slow growth in a time where listeners are more impressed by blog and YouTube videos than pure skill. If fans were to focus on quality as they once did, they would realize that J-Live’s latest S.P.T.A. (Said Person of That Ability) is a gem of an album worthy of a dedicated, thorough listening – and perhaps learning a thing or two from a true veteran of the art.
While J-Live throws his formidable lyrical weight around, he has earned the right to do so with heady concepts that more than graze the brain as he launches salvos meant to make listeners think. Opening the album in a conversation with his “three selves” on the Korede-assisted intro “As I Start”, J-Live warms up the listener for the 50 minute journey. “From Scratch” from fellow ATL resident Illastrate pays homage to the horn sample-laced tracks of the 90s somewhat. J-Live plays a huge part in the track beyond rhyming, employing his DJ skills on the track.
“The Authentic” isn’t the strongest beat from producer Marco Polo, but J-Live sells the song with his robust verses recorded in varying tones. An interlude follows which carries on the convo found on the album’s intro, revealing more of the plot which will not be spoiled here. “Watch Sun Watch” featuring YC The Cynic is an amazing track produced by J-Live. J-Live’s bars exhibit much of the New York native’s ability but YC’s feature verse is less than memorable – unfortunate for such a great song.
The album begins at a frenetic pace but settles down with tracks like “How I Feel Pt 3” – a smooth number from producer Nicolay. “The Me & You” produced by the Audible Doctor and featuring Anneice Cousin showcases J-Live’s ability to tackle the love song concept without the usual corniness. The legendary Diamond D offers J-Live a fresh platter to serve his confident rhymes with “No Time To Waste” – and while J-Live’s career doesn’t appear to be in jeopardy, there exists some tension in the veteran’s bars.
“Poetry In Motion” features a strong track from slept on producer Floyd The Locsmif and features bars from fellow rhyme masters John Robinson and Marq Spekt. The varying vocal tones between the MCs help propel the song, while the potency of the bars adds on the track’s greatness.
J-Live has delivered a strong piece of work in S.P.T.A but with the bar raised so high, it will be interesting to see if the self-proclaimed triple threat product can best this extremely solid piece of work.