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Mental Combat 919

Author: Blaze
Friday, 8 August 2008
The schoolteacher/rapper dude J-Live is an MC’s MC and a favourite amongst heads who go for lyrics over that commercial flashy bullshit that they still try to pass off as hip hop. While fools lap up the shit that gets shoved down their ears or swallow marketing yang in shallow publicity regurgitations that try to pass off as editorial, the people with their fingers on the pulse shift through the crap and recognise the real. J-Live is part of the real and he returns with Then What Happened- (BBE). Musically it’s a much better album than his previous effort The Hear After, in which he produced some of the beats that just didn’t really hit the mark. This time around Jazzy Jeff, DJ Spinna, Evil Dee, DJ Numark, Nicolay and a few others come with the goods to make it a much more rewindable album. The track The Upgrade with De La Soul’s Posdonous, produced and guest rapped by Oddisee, is a contender for the album’s highlight. It might base itself over a simple drum pattern, but the magic vocal sample, delicious bassline, the occasional organ riff and live trumpet make it a standout.

J-Live is perfect example of an artist who gravitates towards writing lyrics based on life experience than serving up fantastical overly exaggerated wank. Because personally I don’t lean towards big sounding club rap or uber-egotistic Kanye West type theatrics. That stuff just shits me to tears. I prefer listening to understated MCs who don’t need to hold 20 megaphones to grab your attention. J-Live is one of those dudes. All he needs is to use his intelligence to spit rhymes that have some reasonable depth or substance. Sure he can rap about himself, but then the person you always know best is yourself. No crime in that. Best tune on this album that portrays this more than any other would be The Last Third. In this song he examines his own divorce and the effects it had on his psyche. It’s interesting to hear the personal plights of others and how they deal with them. We all know that opening up our emotions can be the first step to recovery in any situation. Be No Slave is a diatribe about his previous label hassles; Chali 2na drops his deep J5 swagger over The Zone; a slight mariachi vibe illustrates an ordinary day with some dude called Oddy Gato on Ole and Yallzee’s straight drum break for It Don’t Stop is pure bragging rites with cuts and scratches running every which way. This is a solid album that brings J-Live back into the fold of MCs worth attention.

Don’t forget that he also popped up on Katalyst’s similar titled What’s Happening- album from earlier this year and that he’ll be in town again on the 9 August. Lyrics Born is playing at the Forum and will be joined by his live band as well as supported by J-Live, Blu (of Blu & Exile) and even Young Einstein from Ugly Duckling will be DJing the last part of the night. Local lads Spit Syndicate will be hosting and DJ Diaz will be spinning the beats through the night.

If you are a mixtape fiend or love the funk breaks that helped create hip hop music, then track down the absolutely superb double CD from the UK’s DJ Superix entitled Ultimate, Ultimate, Ultimate. This mix is really something else. To put it in context I should explain the history of the records he uses. In the mid ‘80s an older dude called Lenny Roberts, with the help of remixer Louis Flores, released a series of compilation albums that focused on tracks that crate-digging hip hop DJs had unearthed whilst looking for the ‘perfect beat’, ie: drum breaks. So from 1986 to 1991 this 25 album set was the definitive collection of some of the most popular ‘drum breaks’ that are still being used today, not just in all styles of contemporary music, but even in commercial jingles on TV. All up there were 174 songs contained. DJ Superix uses 160 of them. Now when I listened to his mix on the headphones it didn’t sound like he was using the actual vinyl releases, but instead I have a feeling he might have been using the digital format of Serato and the 2006 CD/DVD release of the Ultimate Breaks & Beats: The Complete Collection which included high bit-rate files of all the songs. Impressive. Try for starters.