It’s only been two years since J-Live’s last album, but it feels like forever. Thankfully, this six-song EP serves as an ample appetizer before the main course hits the streets. As the first verse of “The Incredible” spills from your stereo, the bar is immediately set high for MCs. At this stage in the game, J-Live is a certified guard of the genre, and he swiftly deals with lazy producers and biting lyricists before the opening track ends in a flurry of turntable scratches and cuts.
“Once Upon A Mic” bounces between hip-hop’s rags-to-riches story and J’s own tale of ambition, rejection, and perseverance within the industry. With beats provided by the likes of DJ Jazzy Jeff, DJ Spinna, and Da Beatminerz, the production remains full, engaging, and equal to the verbal wizardry.
“Feel Like Spittin'” catches J-Live in party rocking mode, his words walking with confidence over a Kool & The Gang horn riff combined with a classic drum break from The Skull Snaps. “Practice” remains the standout track, where J takes issue with those who dare to suggest that his music hustle isn’t a “real” job. Claiming multiple titles from CEO to baggage handler, it’s clear that you’re in the midst of a professional whenever he’s on the mic. Let’s hope J-Live won’t keep us waiting for the next full-length too long.