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Review Jun 22 2024 Written by

J-Live – The Best Part (2001) | Review

J-Live - The Best Part (2001) | Review

J-Live‘s The Best Part is one of the most underappreciated records in Hip Hop history, yet it’s undeniably one of the best albums of the 2000s. Recorded between 1996 and 1999, the album faced numerous obstacles before its release, making its eventual arrival in 2001 a momentous occasion. As J-Live himself notes in the album’s prologue, “This album has been built, robbed, destroyed, rebuilt, held up, postponed, canceled, shelved, bootlegged, analyzed, exploited, slept on, supported, patiently awaited, and appreciated long before you got your hands on this slim little package.” These words encapsulate the turbulent journey of The Best Part from its initial creation to its final release.

The delays only heightened the album’s mystique, with bootleg versions circulating and building a buzz around J-Live’s debut. When it finally hit the shelves, it was clear that the wait had been worth it. The Best Part feels timeless, echoing the golden era of Hip Hop from the late ’80s and early ’90s. It stands shoulder-to-shoulder with debuts from The Jungle Brothers and A Tribe Called Quest, combining the messianic energy of KRS-One, the casual perfectionism of De La Soul, and the Afrocentric idealism of Black Star.

J-Live, a DJ, producer, elementary-school teacher, and top-notch emcee, embodies KRS-One’s dictum to educate as well as to entertain. His sophisticated social and political commentary is wrapped in elaborate metaphors, deft wordplay, and sublime beats, making The Best Part both a production masterpiece and a lyrical tour de force. The album features premier top-tier producers like DJ Premier, Pete Rock, and Prince Paul, as well as the lesser-known but formidable 88 Keys, DJ Spinna, and Grap Luva. J-Live’s deep love for Hip Hop is evident in every track, his wit and insight breathing new life into the genre.

J-Live - The Best Part (2001) | Review

J-Live’s academic background as a middle school English teacher is evident in his clever wordplay and intelligent subject matter. From the opening track “Got What It Takes,” J-Live flexes his lyrical muscles, showcasing his incredible flow and sarcastic humor. Tracks like “Vampire Hunter J”, an attack on the heartless and greedy side of government, and “R.A.G.E.,” a declaration of J’s anger about the state of the black community, showcase his depth and insight. “Wax Paper” offers a tight story rap about the lives of twin thugs, while “Them That’s Not” features J-Live adjusting his flow to a speed-changing beat, demonstrating his technical prowess. “Don’t Play” features a catchy chorus and a great acoustic guitar-laced beat, while the title track, produced by DJ Premier, is arguably one of the standout tracks.

Other highlights include the call-and-response anthem “Yes!”, “Kick It to the Beat,” featuring Asheru and Probe DMS, the new wave groove of “Get the Third,” and the autobiographical title track all showcase J-Live’s range and depth. Another gem on the album is “Timeless,” where J-Live contemplates life over a laid-back beat, offering listeners a moment of introspection and enlightenment. Each song is meticulously crafted, blending old-school vibes with new-school innovation.

Overall, The Best Part is a classic album that combines forward-thinking concepts, clever metaphors, vivid storytelling, and top-notch production. J-Live is a conceptual genius, taking on familiar topics and flipping them in innovative ways. His ability to deliver thought-provoking content while maintaining a high level of lyrical and musical quality makes The Best Part an essential listen for any Hip Hop fan.

J-Live - The Best Part (2001) | Review

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