Three great things about S.P.T.A. Said Person of That Ability are the intelligent rapping, the skilful scratching, and the superb production. Better than those is the fact that it’s just one person doing all three. Even better still is that J-Live (aka Justice Allah) performs those roles on the album as three separate characters who actually interact with each other: they joke with each other, they lose patience with each other, and they reconcile. Best of all is the fact that it works – and it works brilliantly.
S.P.T.A. (pronounced “Spitta”) is essentially a concept album in which the artist is divided into his component parts, and his history, lifestyle and values are aired and examined as a dialogue between the three Justices that we meet on the record.
There are archetypes at work here – it’s a discussion between Id, Ego and Superego (Producer, DJ and Rapper respectively) and while Justice the Rapper gets to think out loud about what it all means, he also has to deal with the easily led-astray Justice the DJ and the unreliable Justice the Producer.
The recurring themes for J-Live, after fifteen years in the music business, are ideas of sustainability in a changing industry (“My very first single titled ‘Longevity’”), motivation for making art (“The difference between me and you is I know why I do this / If you think this’ll make you rich, then you’re stupid”) and the hubris of hip hop superstardom:
It’s like that brand new rapper with instant mass appeal
He caught a break with that big major record deal
Acting like the rest is already history
But the release date remains a mystery…
The personal figures large on this album too. Family, fatherhood and responsibility are examined in the light of the ability to make a career. How do you be good at being a hip hop artist and good at being a human being?
S.P.T.A. is an honest, powerful album that rewards close listening. It’s thoughtful, and open in a way that a simple monologue perhaps couldn’t be. But it’s also a lot of fun: entertaining, funny, and woven together with killer grooves and solid funk. It’s not the sound of someone doing some deep searching and beard-stroking, but rather the sound of someone likeable and relatable who’s come into some maturity and wisdom and is enjoying sharing it. And that makes it a masterpiece.
Listen to the full album and explore more from J-Live.