Despite being one of the most elusive figures in hip-hop, Jay Electronica still remains one of the most interesting. So much so I sometimes forget that his musical output has so far produced a grand total of zero albums. So what is all the fuss about?
It has now been five years since Jay released “Act I: Eternal Sunshine (the pledge)” on the virtually extinct MySpace. The short mixtape which uses instrumentals from the movie “Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind” brought a mature sound to hip-hop which had a widespread influence, despite only being fifteen minutes long. It starts with an introduction from Erykah Badu and Just Blaze praising the rappers ability and personality. Before we ever hear him rap, we hear how great he is from two iconic artists.
It turns out Jay has quite a few famous friends, sadly his connections to J Dilla stopped as Dilla’s health deteriorated, depriving hip-hop of a lethal combination. However, buzz began to grow when an E.P. leaked online called “The Style Wars” which featured beats from the legendary producer. Jay’s raps are almost always short which leaves his audience wanting to know more. “Act I” and “The Style Wars” generated a tremendous amount of publicity for what was essentially a miniscule amount of verses from the emcee. The one thing that I love about him is that he practically delivers on every track he touches, proving that it is quality and not quantity that elevates an artist above his contemporaries.
Just as demand for an album was reaching new heights. Jay took the unusual step of practically disappearing altogether. After the success of his music, the questions began to circulate – just who was this man? The answer is as strange as his legacy. His real name is Timothy Thedford, a name which conjures up an image of a conservative politician rather than a hip-hop superstar. Yet, now living in London and infamously breaking up the marriage of a Goldsmith by running off with his wife, perhaps the name is rather apt after all – but we’ll get into that in a minute.
In 2009 a video surfaced online called “Dear Moleskine”. The video is visually stunning yet only lasts the briefest of moments. It features Jay Electronica on a spiritual quest in Asia. The amusing thing is that it contains no rapping, and only this year has the full release of the track finally surfaced with some verses on there. In 2010 Jay-Z announced Electronica signed to his Roc Nation label, something which gave us all hope that we may one day get a full album from the enigmatic rapper; yet there is still no sign that a release is imminent. At this point the myth of a Jay Electronica album is reaching “Detox” comedy levels.
Jay-Z declared a few months ago that the album was done and assured us of it’s quality but held it back because there was ‘no single’. If this is indeed true I find it a bit worrying, as a Jay-Z idea of a single may just have Electronica rapping about bitches and money instead of something like Hindu meditation. Yet the cynic in me feels that perhaps the real hold up could be Electronica’s bizarre personal life. He is no stranger to going out with famous women; he even has a child with Erykah Badu (who has also dated Andre 3000, The D.O.C. and Common), but no hip-hop star has ever received the publicity generated from his recent fling.
This year saw mainstream newspapers pick up on the name Jay Electronica. They even wrongly described him as a “bad boy rapper”. The reason being was not related to his music but his love triangle with Ben Goldsmiths wife Kate Rothschild. For those of you that like Illuminati conspiracy theories it was the news story of the year. There have always been attempts to link hip-hop artists with the likes of the Rothschilds, but never has there been any evidence. Given that Jay-Z signed Electronica you must wonder if the circles Electronica now runs in allow him access to the Global elite of the World, or maybe he just met her in a nightclub – you decide. But the saga has once again reignited Jay Electronica’s name in hip-hop circles and even granted him some fame.
So is this the time to release that long awaited album? I wouldn’t hold my breath. The unfortunate reality is that Jay Electronica seems to enjoy getting us all excited for new music only to take long breaks from hip-hop. It’s amazing that he manages to achieve this level of infamy without any recognized full length project. If an album does finally come this year, he will have a lot to live up to. Of course his considerable skills make me think he’s up for the challenge, but it would be just like him to drop something quirky instead like an album of instrumentals only (after all he has produced for Nas). Watch this space.