He doesn't have any high-profile Hollywood appearances to his credit, but otherwise, J-Live might be described as the poor man's Mos Def. Both are Brooklyn-born MCs who debuted in the mid-'90s; they share a consciously literary bent, a gift for intricate wordplay, and a taste for expanding hip-hop's reach by embracing other genres.
But while Mos Def thrived, J-Live's career languished for several years in a textbook industry horror story, as his aptly named debut, The Best Part, was kept in limbo for years. Since it was finally freed in 2001, he's been making up for lost time: His fourth solo set, The Hear After, is due this month.
J-Live will mark the release by headlining the Best Damn Rap Tour, a collection of below-the-radar heavy-hitters. The outing boasts a decidedly Def Jux feel, with Cannibal Ox MC Vast Aire and C-Rayz Walz, a New York rhymer who recently released his sophomore effort, Year of the Beast.