J-LIVE as part of Uproc with KOLA, JOHN KUMAHARA and DJ SERIOUS at Una Mas (422 Adelaide West), tonight (Thursday, February 14), $5. 416-703-4862. And at the DJ Serious Revue with SERIOUS, MUZIKLEE INZANE and JACKSPLOITATION at the Reverb (651 Queen West), Friday (February 15). $12. 416-504-0744.
The most acclaimed hiphop record that no one's been able to hear has finally dropped.
Originally set for release in 1999, The Best Part by Brooklyn MC J-Live was hailed as a classic before it came out, for its innovative wordplay and unusual beats. Then, with promo copies already circulating, the album was pulled from release schedules during a major-label merger.
While the record floated in limbo, bootleggers went to work churning out a stream of official-looking copies of The Best Part, while J-Live went back to his job as a schoolteacher.
Now, nearly three years after it was completed, an official version of The Best Part has finally been released, complete with extra cuts not available on the bootlegs. J-Live has quit school and is thrilled to be a full-time MC again.
"I can't tell you how happy I am," J-Live enthuses from Exeter, England. "It's nice that people are going and copping the record officially, even some of those who bought the bootleg. That just shows mad love from people who have been supporting me since 95.
"The Best Part went platinum in the underground. I don't know what kind of plaque they give you for that. I once saw this really old Soul Train where a very young Al Sharpton ran up and gave a young James Brown a black record for all his pro-black stuff. Maybe bootleggers can work something like that out for me."
With the real deal now out, J-Live isn't wasting any time with his next project. Having already seen what can happen when you sit on finished tracks, perhaps it's no surprise that J-Live's new record will be out just a few months after The Best Part.
"The new album is called All Of The Above and it drops April 2, guaranteed," J-Live laughs. "The Best Part's kind of like promotional material for the new album. I just want to keep my name out there.
"I took all of the stuff I went through and concentrated it into last year. I didn't want to record the tracks too early, because they'd get out there somehow. People have been dying to hear new stuff from me since they got the bootleg. Here it comes."
Should the MCing thing suddenly fall apart again, J-Live can always return to his first hiphop love -- DJing.
The rapper actually began his career in hiphop behind the decks, and his live show is centred around him rhyming his classic Braggin' Writes single while cutting up records on the turntables. J-Live returns to his DJ roots tonight (Thursday, February 14) at Una Mas before his live set Friday (February 15) at Reverb.
"I started DJing at about the same time I began writing rhymes," J-Live explains. "Both were fun, but I picked MCing because it was cost-efficient. There was so much you had to buy if you wanted to become a DJ. All you need for MCing is a pen and a pad.
"I'm actually going back to DJing a lot more now, in particular because I'm learning how to produce. It became my hobby for the last three years while I was waiting for my life to come together."