J-Live Always Will Be

It took several years for J-Live to get his first album out, but he’s definitely been making up for lost time recently. Always Will Be is the companion EP to the Always Has Been EP he recently released. While that EP featured rare versions of previously released material, Always Will Be presents a fresh batch. As always J-Live’s lyrics are ridiculously on point. "Add a Cipher" revels in his trademark virtuoso wordplay over dusty beats and anthemic horns. For the most part though, storytelling skills and inner thoughts rather than stylistic flair are displayed. Musings about procrastination ("Deal Wid It”) and the dispensing of cautionary wisdom to an aspiring artist ("Car Trouble”) are well-written tracks. However, aside from the throwback energy of "Add a Cipher,” the production is merely passable and doesn’t really elevate the rhymes. A prime example is "Get Live,” where the beat just seems too pedestrian for the title of the track. While J-Live’s charisma ensures that the EP remains largely "skip-proof” as he intended, the soundscapes of these tracks don’t elevate them to the essential status of the material J-Live has issued to date. (Fat Beats)