Spun: J-Live

By Jon Roe

“For those of y’all that it’s your first time here/Welcome to the trilogy/I greet you all with confident humility” rhymes J-Live on the second track of his third full-length album, The Hear After. Not your ordinary emcee, J-Live tackles the number one issue facing the world of hip-hop today: under funding for education. Okay, maybe education isn’t actually at the forefront of most rappers’ minds, but it tops the list for J-Live, a father and former eighth-grade teacher in the Brooklyn Public School System.

Kicking off with the funky “Here,” the album offers a selection of upbeat sounds with a few introspective, slower tracks. These generally deal with more serious subject matter, such as “From the Sidewalks” discussing growing up in a poor neighbourhood and “Brooklyn Public Part 1” talking about cutting education funds and his experience as a teacher. Though he tows the line of familiar emcee territory, such as bragging about how awesome he is on “Do My Thing,” none of it sounds bad. He even takes a new spin on “Fire Water,” comparing his flows to sweet, sweet alcohol, “I piss and I fuck and I gin and I rum/One sip of this flow will get your poor head gone.”

With a title like The Hear After, you might think J-Live is religious, but he views it in a difference sense. “People think of the here after as the after life or somewhere you go when you die. Like heaven or hell. I see heaven as being at peace with yourself. I see hell as the path you choose in life. The album is called The Hear After because I’m at peace with myself musically, and I’ve been through hell to get that way,” he says in the liner notes. J-Live might be the best hip-hop artist you’ve never heard of.

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