East Coast underground rap at its finest, All of the Above
showcases why J-Live
is so beloved by fans of literate, well-mannered hip-hop. The focus here is on lyrics, through and through, and J-Live
indeed serves up a linguistic feast for astute listeners. The pretensions of All of the Above
-- from its Coltrane-esque cover art, to J-Live
's disdain for commercial-minded rappers, to his thoughtful liner notes -- might turn off some listeners, particularly those less discerning ones who don't share his high-mindedness. But that's why All of the Above
is an underground release: it's an album for a select audience that prefers intellect and understated beats over bombast, boasting, booty, and bluntedness.