Journalist 103 (The Left) - Reporting Live

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Journalist 103 stands to be a vital force for the unheard, and "Reporting Live" solidifies him as such.

Alongside his fellow Detroit brethren DJ Soko and producer Apollo Brown, Journalist 103 made an unexpected yet impressive introduction with Gas Mask in 2010. Collectively known as The Left, the album captured a nostalgic prestige with Journalist playing an integral part as the mouthpiece of the group's movement. Two years later and on the solo tip this time around, he looks to carry on this distinct style with his debut Reporting Live.

While Apollo Brown’s backdrop presence is only found here in the form of “Where Is The Love,” Journalist makes do with varying beats from the likes of ATG, Lex Luthorz and Monkodelic to round out the sound. Their overall execution may not match that of Brown, but it’s still an appreciative cast who likewise are able to adapt to the emcee's needs. Journalist 103 fares better with his shortlist of guests, who present a colorful dynamic to his usually firm delivery. As such, Fashawn (“Hear Me”), Eternia (“Where Is The Love”) and Freeway (“Danger”) act as effective counterbalances, and they’re no slouch with the pen either.  

What stands out the most on Reporting Live is Journalist 103’s command on the microphone. From the lyrical vigor and socio-political narrative of “United We Stand” to the melancholic disclosure of drug addiction within his family on “3 AM,” there’s magnetic conviction in Journalist’s voice. Bringing clarity to his personal journey, “Walk With Me” is a record filled with anecdotal teachings for navigating life. Over throbbing drums and a rich melody he raps, “And no, it ain’t all good / Truth will always stand clear from the falsehood / Witness corruption, but know that there’s still hope / Ease comes with hardship so you’ll have a full scope.”

Regardless of how professional an individual is, no live broadcast is without an error or three. The same can be said for Reporting Live, where brevity limits the extent of a handful of tracks’ significance (“Arson,” “Moving 2 Fast”) to which they feel unfinished. Then there’s a record like “The System.” Channeling shades of Lupe Fiasco’s “Words I Never Said,” Journalist merely rattles off a plethora of social ills throughout the world. However, in no instance does he suggest or enlighten his listeners with an alternative solution. Exploitation is exploitation, even if intentions are sincere.

Journalist 103 stands to be a vital force for the unheard, and Reporting Live solidifies him as such. With this album and Gas Mask held in succession, it’s clear that Journalist has found his rightful place within Hip Hop. It may not be glossy and glorified by the masses, but it’s music with an honest cause, and that should keep him above the fold.


  • AR

    Love this album. This dude is incredibly skilled and he's original unlike all the crap popular rap artists. He actually has something to say.

  • hutch1377

    the reviewer has it "theres magnetic conviction in Journalists voice. Bringing clarity to his personal journey" - The LEFT blew me out of the water; i was playing it for all my friends. This album - while lacking the consistency of Apollo doing all of the tracks - still brings banging beats; soulful and lamenting. I love thick production with layer's as the Golden Era delivered. J 103 being from the D, can't suppress those urges. and it manifests in smoky loops and solemn horns. fantastic. and while not the most lyrically acrobatic that a 4 or 5 star lp might cause you to think; J 103 does command the mic and tells you stories of his city and all he has witnessed. A wise and matured perspective propels his honest lyrics. this is pure gold. get it.

  • Ken

    "Journalist merely rattles off a plethora of social ills throughout the world. However, in no instance does he suggest or enlighten his listeners with an alternative solution." DAMN "Exploitation is exploitation, even if intentions are sincere." STRAIGHT problems i got a lotta those but just saying it isn't enough to impress me musically. i feel you if you go through the shit, don't get me wrong on that one, but artistically you gotta express an opinion. this is not a "i hated this album" post; it's more like "damn this shit had potential." listen to some real hip-hop on these topics cuz even if I didn't relate to it personally, it's fascinating to me, exploring one's own darker side. Marshall got the shit right on Relapse, but he joked about it. like for example "My Mom"... Em, you're in my top five, but come now you're just slim shady'ing it (which is still better than most rappers' good days) and it's better when your on that serious tip like "Deja Vu" or pretty much all of Recovery (though it had an inconsistent tone throughout). final thought regarding Journalist though: it coulda been so much more. still, props for getting the word out more than others.

  • Anonymous

    Do you know what is the sample from " where is the love" ?

  • W

    This is solid, but not terribly spectacular. If any reader here hasn't listened to Gas Mask by The Left, do that right now. That album is a classic.

  • Shazaam

    Very dope Album? Detroit has the best emcee's in the game period!

  • Soko

    Solid shit, deserves more than a 3.5

  • ReportingLive

    Favorite album of the year. The Snowgoons, Oddisee and Monkodelic produced tracks are better than Apollo's

  • Anonymous

    lazy bitches where's chino xl's review

    • RealG$

      Agreed 300%. I personally find it insulting to not only Chino himself, but me as well, that you haven't cared enough to review one of the Top 5 Albums of the Year and an Album that was 6 years in the making. It is groundbreaking, and a very introspective effort!!!! The production & lyricism are spectacular. Also, he has far more listeners than half of the Underground LP's y'all take time to review do!! HHDX, the people have definitely spoken, and if you ignore them, well then you'll probably lose 100+ supporters of your website. Whatever....

    • hiphopdx sucks

      What do you expect. Hiphopdx aint a profesional hiphopsite. They pay attention to R & B while this is a hiphopsite. This site is run by people who grow up with Ja-Rule, Cash Money and No Limit records. So dont expect to much

    • firealarm

      They'd rather review Rihanna's album even though it's a goddamn hip hop site. Way more relevant albums they could be reviewing than this one too.

  • huh.

    The Left's "Gas Mask" is a MUST-BUY. But this is meh, at best. 3/5, with a pity point.