J-Live's heart will go on 'At the Date of this Writing' and forevermore
At The Date Of This Writing (Vol. 1) by J-Live
An educator for eternity, J-Live may not be a teacher in the classroom anymore, but as long as he keeps rapping, he’ll always be a teacher on tape so to speak. For years prior but especially at the dawn of the new millennium all the way to the present, the Brooklyn emcee and producer has been one of hip-hop’s strongest truth-speakers, rapping about the true nature of life over vibrantly pulsing beats of the most authentic East Coast persuasion. Over the last three years, he’s been much more active in the music than some might’ve caught wind of through typical news sources, with caring albums like Around The Sun, His Own Self and How Much is Water? To help close out what has been an amazing year for hip-hop, J-Live reemerges this month with the self-released At The Date of This Writing Vol. 1 (Dec 12).
J begins his no-nonsense album by filling the intro “One Two One Two” with mic checks, tight rhymes and of course, heavenly boom-bap, that burst forth through the speakers and pierce the soul. This is not one of those projects that portions all its good parts to one section at the end or anything like that. Everything is irresistible and the first half features arguably the EP’s most profound moments, and the proof is in tracks two and three. In “Eleven Nine,” J-Live describes the cold world in the first world in an age of “moral decay” and “fear and ignorance” where “America been steady losing its f*cking mind.” J-Live accurately states, “you watch the idiot box the livelong day, getting railroaded, ram-rodded, f*cked, hoodwinked and run amuck / led astray so false media can make a buck / pedaling false idols made by false prophets / your real money pads pockets as they send profits everywhere but where the dollars need to circulate.” Honesty just doesn’t get any more brutal than that.
In “Running Scared,” J-Live extends more power to the people with charismatically enlightening passages like “for years we’ve been putting it on wax / my people been sick and that’s facts / the woke know who made the virus, while they steady telling us to relax / the vaccine is here on these tracks / but we gotta do better than just slack / the reward is way more than just racks / with understanding we bring the love back.” In “The Poor Part,” which is impressively one long verse with no breaks, J provides extensive commentary on being a so-called starving artist but also remarks on keeping at it because it’s something positive and constructive for the world-community. For him it’s about owning his masters and “mastering ownership.”
J just keeps coming with great substance, adages and observations in “Old Man Game” where he speaks on generational wealth and growing more seasoned with the music over time, starlit as well in the chorus, where J quotes Nas’s famous dance-move shoutout from “Made You Look.” We then come to “So Close,” where natural beauty is truly found. J-Live revels in the absolute joy and sheer bliss of a real attraction and a real love that is not forced or awkward in the least bit. In “I Tell Myself (Keep Paddling),” because this album has fine executive-direction overall, the focus is on persistence and perseverance, very appropriate for a final track. The door has just been left wide open for volume number two. At The Date of This Writingis proof that you don’t need a big studio budget, flashy sounds, mainstream themes or even guests to make great hip-hop music and J-Live is a mirror image of the quality artist he’s been since the beginning. The general skeleton of ADW1 may not be cutting edge, but J-Live makes the basics sound beautiful once again here.