Published Mar 31, 2015In the true spirit of today's "do more with less" music industry reality, dogged hip-hop soldier J-Live has chosen the solo route in the truest sense for his latest record, dusting off his production skills and opting to be the master of his own destiny. The industrious MC handles all production on the succinctly titled His Own Self, a feat still admirable despite the many mixed results heard here, where an over-reliance on short loops and repetitive hooks tends to undo some of the album's better musical qualities.
J-Live's long-celebrated, canny lyricism shows itself in hot flashes as the subject bounces from giving more than taking, frugal spending and old kicks to new love, old school respect and a climactic plea for justice on the very necessary "I Am A Man." Unfortunately, monotony plays spoiler on more than a few occasions, with the most glaring example coming in J's decision to mimic the offbeat horn and key stabs of "I Just Don't" with his flow for the song's entire duration. That tediousness is repeated in the single-phrase choruses of songs like "Old Shit," "Red The Kid" and others, and while the throwback intent is clear, the execution wears thin quickly and takes a bit of the lustre off the record's brighter moments. (Mortier Music)