J-Live - Live Beats
Monday, 16 June 2008
The New York MC J-Live, aka Jean-Jacques Cadet, is back with his first album in three years. But, thanks to some classy cameos, it doesn't feel like he was ever MIA.
J-Live materialised on Katalyst's epic What's Happening. More recently, he blessed Black Grass' Three, with an ebullient Ian 'Mex' Thompson promising him a beat in the future.
Last year J-Live dropped an EP, Reveal The Secret, but he really stretches himself on Then What Happened- 'I wanted to bring people up to speed - those who give a rat's arse about where I am right now in my life,' he says of the LP in his gently ironic manner. 'With this record, I think the challenge was to just open up a little bit about my personal life, the inner skeletons and demons, and let the growth show from the first record to the last.'
J-Live reached new listeners with 2005's outing, The Hear After, which saw him visit Australia. The 'conscious' MC first came to the attention of hip hop heads with 1995's Longevity, which Mark Farina licensed for a cult Mushroom Jazz compilation. He was in college at the time. J-Live developed into a multidimensional figure - not only MCing, but also DJing and cutting beats.
Nevertheless, J-Live has encountered his share of setbacks. London Records shelved his debut due to corporate upheavals, surfacing on bootleg - which, in retrospect, he considers 'very fortunate'.
Today J-Live is aligned with the European BBE, rather than a major. 'I haven't been snapped up by a major just because the right situations never really came along. At least from my experiences, you can't just sign with a major because they're a major. At the end of the day, if they're not gonna treat you like they're a major, or they're not gonna treat you like you're major, then you really don't end up with a leg up to the game. You wanna go where you're appreciated, where you're respected, and where people know what to do with you.'
Before committing to hip hop full-time, J-Live was an English teacher.
Early in his music career that became a marketing angle - not necessarily with J-Live's complicity. The hip hopper admits to feeling mildly irritated - even 'embarrassed', that he should be falsely depicted. He taught briefly. 'Maybe it's just my sick and twisted nature, [but] it can be offensive at times, because people are like, 'So you're a teacher turned rapper-' I'm like, 'No, it's quite the opposite, actually. I've been rapping since I was 12. I just had an opportunity to teach for a couple of years after school.' I try to keep it in perspective for people.'
Still, J-Live reveres teachers. One day he could return to the classroom.
But, for now, J-Live is contemplating another Australian tour. He's raised his profile here by forging an alliance with Katalyst. 'Coming out there the first time and just getting hip to the scene and being embraced by him, [for us] to do a song together, and then to have it come full circle so far as [for me] to come back out in support of that album was definitely a beautiful thing.'
WHAT: Then What Happened- out now through Inertia