When J-Live broke through the scene in 1995 with his double-A side single "Braggin' Writes" / "Longevity", the underground NY scene was acquainted with one of the most fierce, lyrical and clever debut emcees to emerge in quite some time. Both joints were extremely powerful, but especially "Braggin' Writes" stands as one of the definite classic records of the entire 1990s. The follow-up the following year was the 12" and maxi-single "Can I Get It" B/W "Hush The Crowd" and the brilliant The Dome Crackers' remix of "Braggin' Writes"; a mix that would be the start of a long and fruitful relationship with the unbelivably talented DJ Spinna (Dome Crackers was what Spinna and Joc Max called themeselves when working as a production duo).
With the releases of J-Live's impeccable two first official solo albums ("The Best Part" and "All Of The Above"), the emcee had started his own imprint called Triple Threat Productions. To hold fans over to his third solo LP, "Then What Happened", J-Live released two EP:s via the label in 2003, featuring a total of 14 songs spread over close to one hour of previously unreleased music. The second record was titled "Always Will Been", and featured eight newly recorded self-produced songs and a guest feature from Wordsworth. The real treat however, was the previous EP, simply titled "Always Has Been".
The aforementioned EP were by far the most interesting, collecting all the previously released music leading up to J-Live's signing and the recording of "The Best Part" in late 1998. It featured all five songs from J's two debut singles ("Longevity" / "Braggin' Writes"; "Can I Get It" / "Hush The Crowd" / "Braggin' Writes" - The DomeCracker Remix) as well as 88-Keys' original mix of "School's In" which would appear in a remix by the same producer on "The Best Part" a couple of years later. This is an extraordinary listen from one of, at the time, most promising lyrics and the production by George Sulmers, Domecrackers (Spinna & Joc Max), and 88-Keys. One of the biggest curiousity for me about J-Live's early 12":s that they were all produced by the aforementioned Sullivan; considering how dope, pure hip-hop these cuts are it's head scraching that he really doesn't have any other credits to his name. If you haven't heard this EP before (which is now, of course, out of print), the good emcee has uploaded the entire project to his Soundcloud page where you can stream it in its entirety, with the option to purchase a digital copy. Enjoy some of the finest singles of the mid-'90s. J-Live - "Always Has Been" EP.