The name says it all.

Formed of Oakland’s livest wires and hailing from all four corners of the Town, the Livewire Empire’s membership has risen above sectional tensions and maintained a strictly if never willingly one foot in, one foot out the pokey policy. Signed and delivered via the new Pac – J. Stalin – the congregation of Oakland’s hardest and hardest working artists have been dominating our lives over the past couple of years.

To understand Livewire the music and movement you first must get acquainted with their leader and patron – someone who went from selling confectionary on the Bay Area Rapid Transit railway system as a boy to serving bags of something or other as a young man, to getting put on by Richie Rich, and who in only a few years has graduated to owner/CEO of Livewire Records and president of Town Thizzness.

J. Stalin’s own words about his own music, taken from our exclusive interview with the man last spring, tell us all we need to know about the central tenets of the Livewire Empire: “I like making songs where they got feeling in ‘em. Emotion, where you really saying something. And I like making music that’s timeless, that’s gonna mean something 10 years from now, five years from now and so on.”

Livewire are the Outlawz to Stalin’s Pac. Except there’s more of them. And they’ve proven to be way more prolific in the short time they’ve operated as a movement; so much so that Southern Hospitality has been inundated with pleas to put out a compilation and scratch the surface off a seemingly impenetrable shell of output from artists like Philthy Rich (five albums in under a year), Shady Nate (160 tracks in 16 months), Jay Jonah, Lil Blood, Lil Rue and the dozen or so core members.

We were only too happy to oblige, and while it is far from a definitive Livewire compilation, this officially unofficial set should serve as the perfect introduction to those uninitiated in a collective of artists that have consistently delivered uncompromisingly soulful, hard-edged but nourishing music from the heart. And that’s all we could ask for, and all we really want.