In what seems to be a rare case these days in Hip Hop, New York’s J-Live is a triple threat: he raps, he produces, he is a deejay, and he’s all three exceptionally well for the last 15 years. It’s a feat enough to be able to pull that off, but just as impressive is his catalog and longevity in the game. Although he’s worked with notable names such as DJ Premier, Prince Paul, and Pete Rock, he has taken it back to the underground on his fourth signature between-album EP, Undivided Attention.
Fortunately, straying from the big names on his resume doesn’t mean the quality suffers, and Justice Allah manages to provide his fans with six tracks that vary in musical style and content which, for the most part, lack flaws. He shines on the tracks where he goes the conscious route, as evidenced on the title track. The chorus couldn’t be more accurate when he states, “So where you stand, huh? What you stand for? / Sit your ass down if you don’t know the answer, serious as cancer / This jam demands your, undivided attention.” His flow is on point over a strong production effort as he tackles issues ranging from Gay Rights to the environment. While J-Live manages to shine again with the same tactic on the last track of the EP, “Calculations,” the song is also plagued by the weakest feature on the project from Oddy Gato. Where J-Live’s flow moves smoothly, Gato’s seems detached from the J-Live instrumental and takes on a spoken word-type style that just doesn’t mesh with the lead emcee.
Homeboy Sandman stands in the forefront of Undivided Attention’s features, trading bars with J-Live on the Locsmif-produced “Fitness.” Whereas Oddy Gato and J-Live didn’t reach a balance, Homeboy Sandman stands up to J-Live perfectly, right down to rhyme scheme and cadence, which isn’t simple when one considers how rapidly they’re spitting. By the end of the track the listener will be aware that the “Fitness” in question is of the lyrical variety.
Undivided Attention may only be six tracks long, but it shows that J-Live is beyond proficient as an artist. Not only showcasing his lyricism, the EP manages to also spotlight his talent behind the boards and the turntables. Scratch hooks abound over enticing beats that sufficiently stand up to J-Live’s microphone prowess, rendering this project a must-have for fans of the so-called “real” Hip Hop.