If you were able to cop J-Live’s The Best Part before its official release last fall you were lucky. While shitty record execs delayed it nearly five years, bootlegs circulating during the late ’90s allowed classics such as “Them That’s Not,” “Timeless” and “Wax Paper” to earn J-Live countless fans around the globe. Unfortunately, most of these fans will be confused and disappointed with his much anticipated follow-up, All of the Above.
Whether it’s the “jiggy,” watered-down beats mixed with bearable lyrics or meaningless, horribly annoying choruses mixed with bearable beats, All of the Above delivers no more than five (of 18) good cuts, including three incredibly short interludes.
“Interlude 2 (For the Babies)” contains an adorable-sounding kid babbling over an innocent lullaby beat. Since I’m a sucker for kids, I’m perhaps biased, but this is an immensely beautiful montage … and horribly out of place on the more aggressive album.
What rescues the release from being a total flop is “A Charmed Life,” a chronological account of J-Live’s privileged upbringing. In fact, this beautiful, bass-heavy, fender rhodes-filled cut is J-Live’s older, doper style – the happy, forward-looking beat that builds and prospers, topped by a well-told story. “Happy Belated,” perhaps an ode to his late-dropping album, also bobs heads in a good way – the “old” J-Live way.
J-Live’s stellar delivery and much-needed social and political commentary are not entirely absent from this album, it’s just that you can barely hear it over the predominantly booby bouncing beats.
[Mr. Bell has no boobies, no bounce, but he likes beats.]