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DAR Hip Hop: The Story Of Jay Electronica




Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
-There are some amazing lyricists who just didn't possess what it took to get to the top of the hip hop landscape. During the 2004-2008 decline of the genre, there were a few bright spots: Blu, the west coast MC who released a classic debut in Below The Heavens with Exile. There was the group Little Brother, who eventually broke up, but brought us the amazing production talent of 9th Wonder and one of the most diverse MCs we've ever heard in Phonte. Nothing could prepare for me however for the music and the style of one MC hailing from New Orleans originally, but his sound was more of a New York vibe than anything. This MC was named Jay Electronica. He combined a conscious mind with an aggressive delivery and incredible lyrics that truly set the tone for everything to come. However, his story to get here, his lack of work ethic and visibility, and his contradictions really have limited a career that seemed like it could take off immensely.

Jay Electronica came into the game about 10 years ago, eventually garnering attention with Act I and the Style Wars EP in 2007. From that very moment, I knew he would be something great, though I didn't know what to expect. I would listen to classic tracks from later released What The Fuck Is A Jay Electronica, a mixtape that compiled some of his better tracks. His flow was flawless, his lyrics were out of this world, and a time when the snap rap, Crunk rap, and dance songs were the biggest wave, along with commercialization of the music, he was a breath of fresh air.

From his salute to Michael Vick and T.I. to his cover of Nas' The World Is Yours, to his Bilal remix of "Something to Hold On", his Style Wars EP to many other tracks, he became a noteworthy MC with immaculate ability. As we awaited Act II, he began to get more elusive and drifted away from the scene. This caused some anguish and annoyance amongst fans. The music got more seldom, the output got less and less. It's the true narrative of the story of Jay Electronica.

Today we take a look at Jay Electronica and his story. From his best moments to his worst moments, his rise and inconsistency, to his greatest verses to his disappearances and his signing to Roc Nation, that materialized into nothing over the last 5 or 6 years. Let's get into it.





*Rise And Inconsistency (By @SpeedOnTheBeat)
This may come out the wrong way, but I don't care anymore. I'm frustrated.

I hate Jay Electronica. 

When I first came in contact with his music, I felt it was groundbreaking and inspirational. He was wise beyond his years. He used pieces of Eternal Sunshine, one of my favorite movies, to craft a suite of epicness. Almost a decade-plus after his initial breakthrough, I still feel that way.
That's kind of why I hate the man.

See, it's not rooted in jealousy or anything. Jay Electronica has cosigns out the ass, classic tracks to his name (hi "Exhibit A" and "Exhibit C") and still has the work ethic of an old-school swag rapper (read: Soulja Boy-era swag rap). It's like he feels he can live off the beauty that songs like "Exhibit C" brought into our lives forever and not drop anything else, aside from the occasional loosie or guest verse.

For instance, his spot on Chance's "How Great." He instantly made the verse--and the track--his own. Another example, while slightly overlooked, is his "Control" verse. Sure, we remember Kendrick because he called out every contemporary worth their weight. But, Jay's verse was still amazing. Why can't we get 40-60 minutes of that continuously from him? The fact that he's so damned talented, but would rather just be a musical cocktease is what pisses me off about Jay.

Like, I get it. You're Jay fuckin' Electronica. Your words ooze greatness. Jay Z probably called you the past, present, and future and bowed to your presence. You're the father to a Badu child. Your NOI affiliation and Five Percent-ness potentially allows you to get on some Malcolm X shit, should you ever choose to straight up give us your version of the "Letter From Mecca."

But, all that means nothing, in some ways, if you can't get on the mic every now and again and drop an actual project. It's a plethora of wasted potential. I mean, and I hate to sound ageist, but will we have to wait until you're 50 to hear your debut album?! I, for one, can't wait that long. For real, I refuse to wait that long. Please, for the sanity of those who still fuck with you, drop an actual project.

Is Jay Electronica classic? Well, in some ways, yeah. He's dropped some solid tracks that still get referenced today. Everyone from Styles P to Big K.R.I.T. to DK aka Wayne Watts hopped on "Exhibit A" and/or "Exhibit C." Off the strength of two tracks, he energized a few generations to rap that Wonderama shit--again. From indie artists to artists on the same level, when those two tracks dropped, it was on. It was like "Control," but so much more monumental.

Based on that alone, he's classic. Not too many artists can lay claim to changing the game off a couple songs. But, will we remember his entire body of work? Eh...that's where I'm conflicted. For every "Shiny Suit Theory," we get him on the "We Made It" remix where Jay kind of dissed Drake. In other words, for every ten, we get a 5 or 6. Add that into the fact that he's still not dropped a full-length project, and his classic status becomes murkier than the future of his full-length project(s).

All in all, the jury's still kind of out on whether or not Jay Elect is an all-time classic artist. But, he's dropped some classic songs. Speaking of which...






Favorite Songs And Verses (By @TrueGodImmortal)
-Now, for me, my favorite Jay Electronica songs aren't just "Exhibit A", and "Exhibit C", but rather I enjoy his underrated work, like the immaculate "Victory In My Clutches", which is a top 5 Jay Electronica song. As much flack as we give him for his output since signing to Roc Nation, before that he's put out some solid music and a ton of random tracks. "Girlfriend" was a nice smooth track, a departure from our usual Jay Electronica vibe, and I still think the brief "FatBellyBella" track dedicated to his relationship with Badu is so flawless. The lyrics tell a great story. See below:

"I said I love you baby, well you don't act like it/
Squeeze my feet, kiss my neck, rub my back like it/
And on the phone it's just you gon hit me back right quick/
First we was straight now it feel like we jack-knifin/
Kamikaze love, self-destructive patterns/
Mercury in retrograde, four house of Saturn/
Nothing makes me sadder than/
Hailing cabs alone goin' home on a Saturday/
Bumpin' Donny Hathaway/ 
Questioning my choices/
Thinkin 'bout marriage, carriage, and horses/
Man on the hectare, land like a fortress/
I hope you understand me/
Though I'm cold like New York,
My heart is warm like Miami/
I'm just trying to build a Kingdom for my people and my Family/"

That's one of my favorites from Jay. Verses are so hard to really tie down from a perspective of his best because, he has so many. I'd always give credit to his work on the Reflection Eternal track "Just Begun", as he owned the song and seemingly left everyone else in the dirt. Check the scribe:

"Smile on my face, tears of a sad clown/
Feelin' out of place as I whistle a cab down/
If I tip extra, can I huff a cig?/
Blow my smoke out the window, droppin' ashes on the bridge/
I'm in New York now, like Akeem and Semmi was/
Tryna get the lobby door open from a semi buzz/
I just wanna go to the slums/
And throw my money on the floor like the Notorious B.U.M/
Build a home, teach a class, start a revolution/
Free the mind, heal the body, talkin' evolution/
This that black Elohim Anunnaki rap/
That Farrakhan Hakeem Olajuwon Khadafi rap/"

This is the frustration. Jay has so many great moments and such immaculate lyricism that we as fans want more. Much more than we've received. There's no album. No mixtape. We may receive one or two verses and a song a year. It's all insignificant in some way. Nothing made me angrier as a fan than hearing the beautiful "Better In Tune With The Infinite", which is truly one of the most gripping verses that I've heard period. It's just delivered perfectly, as a somber piano plays behind vocal clips (one of Elijah Muhammad) and a beautiful chorus and bridge that reminds us that "yesterday is gone... tomorrow is on the way", but Jay truly shines here with some straightforward and raw lyricism.

"It's frustrating when you just can't express yourself/
And it's hard to trust enough to undress yourself/
To stand exposed and naked/
In a world full of hatred/
Where the sick thoughts of mankind control all the sacred/
I pause, take a step back/
Record all the setbacks/
Fast forward towards the stars in the jetpack/
My feet might fail me, my heart might ail me/
The synagogues of Satan might accuse or jail me/
Strip, crown, nail me, brimstone hail me/
They might defeat the flesh but they could never ever kill me/
They might can feel the music but could never ever feel me/
To the lawyers, to the sheriffs, to the judges
To the debt holders and the law makers, fuck you, sue me, bill me/
That name on that birth certificate, that ain't the real me/
The lies can't conceal me/
The sunrise and the moon tides and the sky's gon' reveal me/
My brain pours water out my tear ducts to heal me/
My Lord's too beneficent/
The message grab a hold to every ear it get whispered in/
The waters in the bayous of New Orleans still glistenin'/
The universe is listenin', be careful what you say in it/
My grandma told me every bed a nigga make, he lay in it/
The church you go to pray in it, the work is on the outside/
Staring out the windows is for love songs and house flies/" 

Of course, there's tracks like "Dear Moleskine", "The Ghost of Christopher Wallace", his work on "Control", "How Light", his verse on the Common "Kingdom" remix, and the well known "Exhibit C", but I think nothing compared to his focused state on "Exhibit A". The entire song is just a lesson In lyrics and flow, and imagery.

"I spit that wonderama shit/
Me & my conglomerates/
Shall remain anonymous/
Caught up in the finer shit/
Get that type of media coverage Obama get/ 
Spit that Kurt Vonnegut/
That blow your brain Kurt Cobain, that Nirvana shit/
Who gon bring the game back?/
Who gon spit that Ramo on the train track/
The gold rope, that 5-finger ring rap/
Running with my same pack/ 
You can find the Christ where the lepers and the lames at/
Life is like a dice game/
One roll can land you in jail or cutting cake, blowing kisses in the rice rain/
Nice whip, nice chain/
The closet of skulls/
The stench is like slave blood in Providence Hall/
Yea, they built my city on top of a grave/ 
Nigga die, nigga get high and watch the parade/
Back in the early 90s, 'where they at? where they at?, get the gat! get the gat!' was a popular phrase/
Bally animals and rugby's was a popular craze/
This is vivid memoirs of a obnoxious slave/
I pave ways like Nat & Harriet/
I blast on Judas Iscariot/ 
And peel off in a chariot/
I'm sitting pretty, spitting flames, gripping grains/
Ain't a damn thang changed/

They say, "Candyman, Candyman spit me a dream"/
Blow a chunk of the levy out and spit me a stream/
Knock a man's house down and a build a casin-/
A 2000 dollar government check from FEM-/
I swam down shit's creek and came up clean/
With a new lease on life like Andy Dufresne/
It's the most poetical/
Nat King 'Unforgettable'/
Clarance 13X, Allah's rhapsody from Bellevue/
I'm splitting atoms, spitting flames, bringing change/
Things will never be the same/
I got the rap game singing at last like Etta James/
Lames get they plane shot down like John McCain/
It's a dream, it's a dream/
The flow is elegant like Ms. Coretta Scott King/
A lot of kings seen death and turn queen/
Crack they 24-inch rims in the ravine/
Respect the architect, never test the Elohim/
Goodnight, this is Jay Elect live from New Orleans/"

There's not many verses in hip hop that could compare and this is what pisses me off about him so much. The laziness and lack of releases limits the chances to hear the brilliance, which back in 2009-2010, it worked and had fans clamoring for more, but now it's turned into a disappointing missed opportunity. It was when he signed to Roc Nation that we expected an album to come and he even set things off with the solid and eyebrow raising track "The Announcement", which was simple in theory, but lyrically featured some interesting lines, which is the beauty of Jay's lyricism: he knows which buttons to push on the listener.

"My view is aerial/
Your crew inferior/
My crew imperial/
MC Killers, Milk & Serial/
Get it? Forget it../
You'll still be connecting the dots with smoking holes in your fitted/
Those that got it be all at the shows throwing fits/
The light from the dynasty sign froze all of the critics/
And nary a soul got on they frog toes to ribbit/
Shhh... t'was the night before the coming/
Sugar plum candy coated lines for the dummies/
Decoded hieroglyphics in the shrines for the mummies/
We not illuminati but our eye is on the money/"

"Just know that the Black Gods mingled a bit
Then the fingers got pricked/
Then the single got picked/
Man I'm living out my brain I don't dream about shit/
If I say dream, I meant Dream, Fresh not Hampton/
I got a date with destiny I'm definitely not cancelling/

"Romancing...the stone/
The Roc....the Throne/
The Elegant Celebration/ 
Sent tremors through every nation/
The Stars aligned like cars at grand central station/"

When referencing the best Jay Electronica verses and songs, I know some people like to say Jay-Z beats him on their collaborations and I agree on the "Shiny Suit Theory", but on the "We Made It" remix, while Jay had a catchy verse, Jay Elec killed it in my opinion.

"The devil, the haters, the bloggers, the papers, the labels, they labeled me/
But they can't relate to our struggle, my nigga, we came up from slavery/
Apologies go out to all of my fans cause they waited so patiently/
This one is for all of the lost and forgotten black angels that prayed for me/
A milli, a milli, niggas love me cause I'm ill/
The greatest story ever told, niggas in the field/
From Solomon to Sambo to Django, it's fact, I'm the Farrakhan of rap and I get it from the wheel/
The son of WD/
Who hung around in the D/
Who ran around in the three
The trap gods raised me/
Face all on the Sphinx, story all in the wall of the pyramids, niggas know the Black God saved me/
You can blow the nose off, that won't change it/
Obamacare won't heal all that anguish/
We came a long way from the bottom of the boat, all praise to the Mahdi, we found our language/
Gold necklace, middle finger erected/
God tribe of Shabazz stylin' on the record/
Lost sons of Muhammad, wildin' in the wreckage/
Asha du illah illaha is the message/
All these niggas, I got to fight one/
All these devils, I got to strike some/
All these rebels just waitin' on the war cry, Mama said, 'Son, you got to strike drum'/"

This is where I'll end my favorite lyrics and verses section. This is where I find myself the most annoyed with Jay Elec. Here he is apologizing to his fans for the wait and years later after this verse, they're still waiting. Once again, the brilliance and immaculate lyricism is overshadowed by his laziness and false entitlement. Which brings us to the uneventful signing to Roc Nation.





*Signing to Roc Nation (By @SpeedOnTheBeat)
-Should Jay Electronica have signed with Roc Nation? I'll say yeah. It fits him. He's eclectic as hell and Roc Nation, when it does what it's supposed to, fosters growth of eclectic artists. However, like many conglomerates of this nature, Roc Nation has its obvious flaws. I won't go too much into them, though. But, I honestly would've preferred Jay to stay on his own. Maybe he would've been compelled to drop something to get/recapture the eyes of the industry that way. I don't know.

But, considering Jay's ethic and Jay Z's...abilities as a talent facilitator, it's a match made in heaven and hell.




*No Album And The Future (By @TrueGodImmortal)
I don't understand the move of Jay Elec to Roc Nation because it led to nothing. Recently, he said get Tidal and stay tuned, which could mean there's an album coming. But do we care? Does this matter? Is it too late? The answers to those questions are sort of, not really, and yes. The Jay Electronica story will go down as a sad one, one of unfulfilled potential, and a missed opportunity. Jay could release a great album and it still wouldn't matter, because by now, he should be in the territory with Wale (ugh), J. Cole, Kendrick, and all the contemporaries that have been much more active than him. Even Kendrick, who took 3 years in between albums, has 4 noteworthy projects since 2010.... Jay Electronica has none. Blu has over 4 projects since then. J. Cole has put out 3 albums and a mixtape with a few small EPs to speak of since and he's also with Roc Nation.

What’s the deal with Jay Electronica? Is it Roc Nation? Is it Jay-Z? Is it the odd marriage to the white billionaire Rothschild? What is it exactly? What is his purpose to disappear and then return this year attacking 50 Cent and Kendrick before taking his comments back? What is his motivation now? We really don't know. It's that bit of mystery that kept us interested in Jay Elec over the years..... and it's that same bit of annoying mystery that makes his story one that's lost relevance and turned fans against someone who was brilliant. This isn't like the Canibus situation, where a beef with a legend and likely blackballing stopped his possible success, this is different. Jay is cosigned and on the label of one of the greatest rappers ever in Hov, one of the best producers in Just Blaze, been cosigned by the GOAT MC Nas, been working closely with one of the biggest names in hip hop ever in Diddy, and was universally respected in the genre. He still gets love obviously as he was recently working with Common, Royce Da 5'9, Rapsody (who recently signed to Roc Nation too), and Chance The Rapper, but that's his fellow artists. That's not the fans who have been waiting. The story of Jay Electronica honestly can be summed up in the title of the mixtape that caught our attention years ago.... what the fuck is a Jay Electronica? Or better yet, who the fuck is Jay Electronica and will we ever get an album to gain better understanding of the man and no artist? Who knows. Uncertainty ends this article because uncertainty is the narrative of his career.

-DAR 

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