All Of The Above
Record label: Coup d'Etat
Format: 2xLP/CD
Release date: 2 April 2002

I have to believe that if Chuck D knows or has heard of J-Live, he’s smiling. J-Live is the epitome of hip-hop. All of the Above is the sophomore creation of this talented hip-hop artist. I say “artist” because he is equal parts emcee, DJ, and producer showcasing his versatility and creative ability in one of the heaviest and most thought-provoking albums I’ve heard. Joe Money, Usef Dinero, Spinna, and Touch of Jazz primarily handled the boards; still, J-Live comes with his own scratches, beats and rhymes.

All of the Above is part concept album, part hip-hop life lesson book, and part skills showcase. From his multiple ending story “One for the Griot,” the wordplay of "MCee" and “All In Together Now,” to his throwback to the old school laced flow on “Stir of Echoes,” J-Live takes his time to show and prove. With songs such as “Satisfied” and “How Real It Is,” he belies his youth to reveal wisdom about life and its realities. The beauty of his style is that there is no filler: every word counts, every line builds on the last. Beat wise, the mood is much more calm than The Best Part (more bump on that album, truth be told), but no less powerful. All Of The Above brings soul.

Few artists (if any) have the full range of styles and creativity that J-Live has. He is a modern day Large Professor (as if LP is washed up…). If there were a knock against the album, it would be its lack of flair. Songs like "Them That's Not" or "Braggin' Writes" can’t be found on All Of The Above. This is head music for the hip-hop fan that immerses themselves in all facets of the art of emceeing. J-Live is an artist that has to be judged by the sum of his parts. He has the rare gift of being able to cover all bases and give them their proper due. This might be the album of 2002. It is for me.

{mikal lee (hired gun)}

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