J-LIVE with UNSPOKEN HEARD, COLLIZHUN and DJ P-PLUS at the Comfort Zone (470 Spadina), tonight (Thursday, July 5). $10-$12. 416-760-3332.
The problems just keep piling up for Brooklyn MC J-Live.
Three years behind schedule and a full five years since his first release, J-Live's astonishing The Best Part album still hasn't come out.
Next to KMD's infamous Black Bastards disc, The Best Part is the most famous hiphop record never to be officially released, spawning dozens of rumours and bootlegs, many of them allegedly released by J-Live himself.
Dropped from PolyGram just before the album was supposed to hit the streets, J-Live has been playing a game of catch-up with the bootleggers ever since.
This spring, just when it seemed like everything was straightened out and the album had a firm release date, another high-quality bootleg appeared, fooling many into believing that this was the real thing.
The inventive MC's frustration is obvious, but J-Live still believes that when The Best Part does finally drop for real in September, his true fans will still be waiting.
"There's a couple of different things on the new version, but for the most part this is the same album that a lot of people have appreciated and even more people haven't heard," J-Live offers from Brooklyn. "I still consider it my first work, and I know it stands up even after three years, so I'm not concerned.
"It's got a real buzz, but what's going to help this record even more is the fact that a lot of people have been waiting. For people to be bootlegging it means that someone out there really wants to hear it, and that makes me feel proud."
Aside from a few cameos on other artists' singles, the time off has given J-Live the opportunity to take up a few hobbies, like production. He's also had more time to sculpt the minds of young New Yorkers in his grade eight English class.
"My kids just graduated today," he beams. "It was a really rewarding thing seeing these kids in Bushwick going on to high school.
"It's actually the last class I'm going to be teaching. Now that the record's finally coming out, I'm going to devote myself full-time to the music. If it all falls apart again, though, I can go back to school."