A gritty vegan filled with the beef of thousands of ancestors. A real peacemaker with the bloodiest of hands. A man of letters who can’t be read. A leader of the people who isn’t easily led. In the era where the contradictory are the righteous warriors and the simpleton cosigners are the honored debutantes of dignified savagery. And this heightened Hip Hop music—expressed forms of the most profound thoughts—sing song the anomalies of live justice at the adversaries of illness.
Left pleading and praying for these pimped palettes to pass away via principled progression. Just dreams it seems like living in Pelan palaces with no pitchers prancing or pigs preying. Petitions to penalize punks pummeled by prompt programs and the problem persists. Large label players propagated stay persisting and post-payola powers are upon us. Until we premierely press pissed pens to paper will we see that an MC’s worth of Live Justice against it all is His Own Self.
His Own Self is the simple reliance on J-Live’s reality as a Triple Threat. A superior MC, whose ways with words and ideas with insight turn Long Players into archives of entertained study, his DJ skills are etched in his namesake whilst his production skill is a less used weapon that steeps records in the bliss of mastered equality.
With armaments that ameliorate a whole genre, J-Live is one of the great concept song writers able to highlight unique subjects with dynamic tactics of execution. On His Own Self, it ranges from the near acapella delivery that makes the LP title a thesis introduced (“Peace, Be Still”) and delivered (“Be Still, Peace”). The tracks become mirrored bookends of each other as the former verses in retrospect “As I travel 360 looking down on all the stories laughing at what used to be my cares/so reflective/I provide the food for thought and the perspective/like that movie Ratatouille you live vicariously through me/but so many would-a/could-a/should-a/what ifs/squandered opportunities and gifts/missed chances to lift off/and uplift/it makes you kind of wonder what should have been…” and the latter rhymes angling toward the present struggle, “See, I thought I was finished but, no/it ain’t over til it’s over/you have no say/at least not until you say so to yourself/like the 38th degree said, “in one day,”/I always thought love was knowing enough to care and caring enough to know/cyclical/you gotta let it grow/a snowball’s chance, a snowflake’s thumbprint/ when loves triumphant/you won’t keep loving if you don’t keep learning/you can’t keep learning if the love don’t let you/you can’t teach your love if the mind is closed/nothing left to say, that’s just the way it goes…”) A constant barrage of insights in a wordplay that double entendres letting the verses read as a constant re-poeticizing of the same words in every way it could possibly be written.
This same exceptional word re-wording wiliness warps through the distant shaker and rolling congas on his battle athlete moniker, “Mic Singletary.” Just as intense as Sean P’s Mic Tyson, Live flows, “Mic Singletary/the rap tackleberry/Bubba Smith of the fuck the police academ-ie/textbook, technique, guess who the tackle dummy?/wax shit apocalypse/dope shit apothecary /flow like a river but an underground estuary /I carry on tradition by living legendary/play through the echo or the whistle like I’m never worried/out of bounds, late hits or other unnecessary/giving out beatdowns like free condoms/a one man army that caught you red handed/ and sent you home as a one armed bandit/other arm shorter than my unborn grandkid…”
His Own Self moves through techniques and stylings in great shifts as the deliberately obnoxious monotone not giving any fucks (“I Just Don’t”) or the rocking an 80’s Run DMC liveness to homage the great mix DJs (“Red & The Kid”). Still, the depth of J-Live is in his ability to use his expert flow, keep the spacing minimum and the verses thorough enough to make inspirational ideas something that slowly ingrains on repeat listens as “Pay It Forward.” There is also the highlighting of lifestyle habits we never noticed as on “Old Shit,” as Justice analyzes the cataloging of his gear and the preservation of his wardrobe. That’s another side of the poor Brown Brooklyn realness I know and understand.
Despite all the clever mic stratagems, he still is one of the most profound social commentators continuing with “I Am A Man,” a great song that will continue to be fucking relevant as the pigs are just that. An ability to really hit all the points we have thought in our mind,
“Allegiance to the people not the flag./ The flag’ll never represent the people ’til we all considered equal./ In the eyes of the law, rich or poor, officers kill Blacks with no remorse./Then ask what we bitchin for./And wonder why the innocent aint even snitchin’ for’em./You just as dangerous as criminals so pick your poison./Part of the problem that refuses to relate./Turn the hood to a trap very few can escape…” And the witty word slinging continues to propel trials of love as it does on “Get It Together” with bars as “From the mental stimuli to mere mentions require cold showers/the apple of my third eye too/makes sense the Earth below could never be so good/without the heavens above/understanding was understood/But equality was lost in translation/ran out of patience, my kingdom was in tribulation…”
Musically, the melodies, cuts and breaks and sound quality amplify all that Justice is serving lyrically. A musical style that pleasantly mines out an entire universe of illness of the aura of De La Soul’s 1996 Stakes Is High album, the booming instrumental with womps and key stabs, alternate handclaps all in organized measure of “The Greatest Thing” instrumental signify the style. The bookends “Peace, Be Still,” and “Be Still, Peace” are contemplative bass plucked harmonic pulses with cymbal crash emphasizers that put us in the space of the build. The loud smacking snare drums, bass drum stamp and tinkered keys on “Red & The Kid” leading into great scratches that all have injections of ol’ time elements with his clearly new sound. For the tough stuff on “Mic Singletary,” the rolling conga and drumroll dive ins, horn blast and consistent shaker in the background all drive into a great deep toned boom bap for the chorus. The steady horns parade and Ode to Billy Joe-ish drums through the finally worded logic of “Old Shit” or the bass stabs and concluding key melodies on “Get it Together” are symbolic of His Own Self’s perfectly matched productions. The best beat marker for J-Live is the “I Am A Man Remix” that makes a rugged gem even harder with a plodding drum smacks and very deep bassed piano stabs and violently right vocal samples throughout.
His Own Self is prove J-Live needs nothing else. A complete triple threat production that with more albums created by his own self easily can be earning of the greatest Hip Hop musicians ever as he already is on that list of MC greats. Such bitter fruit lays on the streets of this worlds Black and Brown’d corners. It is only fitting we have a score that shows the jeweled-ades that can be created alone for a more fruitful way for all.