2019 — Classics / Canon DiS Hip-Hop Listening Club


Here is what @littlebirds had to say:

When it comes to boom bap, J-Live is probably one of the most underrated to ever do it. I mean, I kind of get it. He came out a nerdy looking guy with glasses rapping over kinda typical NY bapping beats well after its peak. He wasn’t really doing anything new, but the subject matter and depth to his lyrics is on a level way beyond most of his peers. And what he does do… damn he does it well. The Best Part is the best example of that. You’ve got big name producers on here that he never really got the chance to work with again. Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Prince Paul, 88 Keys. The beats aren’t flashy but they all knock hard and perfectly fit his impeccable flow. This is just one of those albums I think if it was released half a decade earlier it’d be seen as up there with the all time classics. Basically dig all these tracks, but special shout out to Epilogue, which is one hell of a great album closer.


Nice. Listened to this on the way in today. Aged really well IMO. Always kept an eye out for him after liking Hush The Crowd, which was on the b-side of some 12", then I didn’t hear much from him, then I remember a bootleg of this album coming out which was one the first things I got off Napster. Having a read now and it looks like he had label issues and bootlegged it himself. Interesting.

Agree what you say about timing. Even though we’re taking about a pretty narrow timeframe he seemed to miss his window as he had quite a traditional sound. By the time the late 90s rolled around, he possibly wasn’t weird or gritty enough for what the indie crowd wanted? Dunno. I do remember this album being very popular though, especially with the Scratch crowd in London.

Great pick though - enjoying revisiting. :+1:


This was great to listen to while packing up boxes for moving this afternoon. The only song I had heard before was the DJ Premier produced title track which follows the fantastic classic primo style but the whole album is great. I think I need to listen to it another ten times to really appreciate it. I enjoyed revisiting Ice-T last week but I probably won’t bother listening to Power again in a hurry but I can see myself putting The Best Part on heavy rotation.

The whole thing does feel out of time for 2001 and I see what @littlebirds was saying about it but now that it’s 18 years later, does that really matter? I like the fact that he was still a middle school teacher while he recorded this.


It’s worth adding that it was set back by label issues for 3 years and had it been released in 1998 it would have felt more current. Fits in fairly well with Gang Starr’s Moment of Truth, for example, which for me is a quintessential release from that year


j lives first two albums would have been so perfect in mid-late 90s for sure. i actually just recently listened to both thinking i might recommend one of them for this here thread.

I thought Them Thats Not was the best song ever created when i first heard it and for some time after. love the way the tempo shifts and messes with the listener, and the weird pitch shifted notes randomly thrown in to cockeye the whole sound. the bass line drop is the star of the instrumental show tho. whata . song:

we really deserved this with some more exposure in the 90s smh


I actually think the Premier and Pete Rock tracks are two of the least noteworthy tracks on here. they arent bad by any means, but both are just kind of comfort zone beats.

prince paul brought something fresh to the table tho

and j lives concept on that one is really cool


Actually one of the most disappointing albums I can ever remember. This isn’t to say it’s bad - it’s not at all - but I was just expecting so much from it at the time. He had a huge amount of hype in indie hip hop circles in London at the end of the 90s and his first couple of 12”s (Braggin’ Writes, Them That’s Not) were amazing. He also smashed his verse on the Handsome Boy Modelling School LP, and that was being played everywhere at the time. Like others have said, think if his album had come out in '99 like it was supposed to, it would have done some damage.

The two year delay certainly didn’t help him, but I was definitely still excited to get his record when it did come out. Don’t know whether I’d overhyped it, or I was just burned out on the indie boom bap sound by then (probably a bit of both tbh), but was just massively underwhelmed. Listening again this week without so much expectation I do like it a bit more, but still find it pretty unexciting. It’s definitely the beats more than J-Live himself - they’re really unimaginative. The big names turn in luke warm approximations of their best work, and the other dudes, with a couple of exceptions, are pretty one note. J himself is definitely a great emcee, and lyrically I like him a lot (although he could possibly do with extending his subject matter), but find it really noticeable how much his delivery bites Keith Murray on this record, and I can’t get this out of my head when I listen to it now.

Sorry for being a bit grumpy, lb. Obviously very happy for people to point out what it is I’m missing, too…


interesting, i wasnt in on indie stuff really quite yet so i didnt hear j live until my college roommate loaned me a mix cd of his best tracks, i think around 2002-03. had all the good stuff off both his first albums and tbf i thought it was his debut album, so when i heard the original i was like wheres the other good songs? i feel you though.

Oh damn! i hear it for sure


hope people dont feel like they cant have dissenting opinions in here (general point not just directed at you). all takes are welcome and encouraged!


really enjoying J-Live and it’s my first listen; I think previously I’ve both confused him with J-Zone (who’s book I really want to read) and written him off based on some truly corny album covers:

really hope he didn’t pay more than $30 for this

Them’s That Not has majorly piqued my interest. He reminds me a bit of Aceyalone just in terms of wit and engaging rhyme schemes and unpredictability. Love the Pete Rock beat and the beat on Get the Third. Surely the latter ended up on a skateboarding videogame soundtrack along the line otherwise it’s a damn shame.

there’s definitely a couple of #dodgybars hidden in there - “get to know the mind behind this dick that I’m slinging” being one. i say this with fondness


only heard this for the first time a couple of years ago, wax paper and bragging writes are the two I’ve been coming back to the most but the whole album is pretty good. love the beat on get the third as well. despite liking this I’ve not yet attempted to explore the rest of his catalogue, are any of his other albums worth a listen?

I did this for the longest time too haha


think you’re right, sound-wise, but gang starr were veterans in 1998 and this was a debut. guru had an authoritative voice that people had known for a long time, so reckon people wanted premo to stick to the musical template. people wanted reassurance from their teachers- not new trendy things.

i’d put this with the then ‘new throwback’ people like Jurassic 5, blackalicious, dilated peoples, ugly duckling. don’t mean that as a criticism.


id def check out his second one. nights like this and the 4th 3rd are two of my favorites of his.


their music is quite different haha


Not wanting to diss our man J-Live but I feel like with his label story and delayed releases etc he could just have easily authored a book called Root for the Villain: Rap, Bullshit, and a Celebration of Failure. I think that’s the root of my confusion.


De La Soul – Buhloone Mind State

(+ Buhloone Mind State sessions)

Released 1993. Production by De La Soul and Prince Paul.
This week’s pick courtesy of @nav


Here is what @nav had to say:

De La are one of my favourite rap groups and their first four album run is one of the best in rap in my opinion. This album is the black sheep of the bunch though - weird and esoteric. Less defining than 3 Feet High, less accessible than …Is Dead or Stakes is High, just a gem of an oddball weird rap album released by a very popular group letting their imagination wander in plain sight.

I’m going to add this extra release to my pick, a collection of b-sides, offcuts and remixes - but the approach to remixes whereby they truly redefined songs and often redid vocal parts or included different lyrics. I think as a companion piece to the album it really fleshes out the snapshot into the creativity of De La at the time. It also features some of my all-time favourite De La tracks (Lovely How I Let My Mind Float, Sh.Fe.Mcs, the De La Breakadawn remix, the Egoristic Ego Trippin remix).

this was released for free so safe to re-up it without breaking any laws - couldn’t find any sequenced links online



Nice choice, especially given De La being in the hip hop news a lot at the moment.

The B-sides is a nice addition - I don’t have that. Do have the Clear Lake Auditorium EP though which looks like it might have been the basis for this?

Great album, but definitely one that I didn’t really warm to until years later. Was probably Stakes Is High that made me revisit. Not sure I gave it a fair chance really - De La were kind of old news in 1993.


3 feet high and rising just turned 30! i watched the sway interview just last week:

lotta record deal talk about why their music isnt on streaming platforms etc. pretty sad.

this was my experience w them as well. stakes is high was my first de la album. dont think i heard de la is dead or buhloone… albums til college in 99. I really love late career de la and rate everything pretty highly up through the grind date. i usually play stuff off the aoi albums and grind date more than the earlier stuff now.


mercyyyy… mercyyyyy… ego trippin…ego trippiin…mercyyyy… ego trippin… ego trippiin…mercyyyy