All My Rowdy Friends

Jay ElecRamadaan-Muhammad-Asalaamica by ulyssesdestructo
September 2, 2010, 9:59 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I will be the first to admit that I’m not one to buy into hype.  As soon as a new buzzband takes off and every person, blog, & musichead tells me I NEED to hear it because it’s the real shit I will almost certainly pass on it.  Personally, I like to give the buzzbands a listen a few months after the hype has died down to give the music a real listen without the influence of all those other people raving about it.  I want the music to stand on it’s own and make me want to listen to it again.  I want the music to be worth listening to a year or more later.

The first time I had any experience with Jay Electronica was when I saw him open for Mos Def in summer ’09, and I have to say I was far from impressed.  The dude came on stage more or less shitfaced, could barely hold onto his flow, had the DJ cut the beat on nearly every song so (I’m quoting loosly here) “the audience can focus on the shit he spit”.  I say it was because he was too drunk to keep his rhymes up to tempo.  He sent his cell phone into the audience so people could put their twitter and myspace profiles in it so he could friend them (that was actually pretty hilarious).  I came away from his act thinking, “Who the fuck was that guy and why was he opening for Mos Def?”

Fast forward to spring ’10.  A friend of mine here in Beijing mentions this dude, who’s been hyped as the messiah of hip hop for about 2 years now, has yet to drop an album yet, but has a couple of singles & mixtapes out and support from the likes of Nas, Erykah Badu, Puff Diddly, and Mos Def to name a few.

“What did you say his name was again?” I asked my friend Josh.

Josh: “Jay Electronica.”

“Shit! I saw him open for Mos Def Last summer.  He sucked! I’ll have to give him another chance I guess.”

After I listened to his single ‘Exhibit C’, produced by Just Blaze, for the first time I probably played it on repeat for about another half hour at least.  It definitely helps that he has some great producers behind him, and this track has a beat that I couldn’t (still can’t) get out of my head.  But the dude has me convinced that he’s worth following for a number of reasons:

#1: His delivery is smooth and good on my ears (see: comparable to Nas)

#2: He isn’t rhyming about money & bitches.  He definitely likes to stroke his ego and is probably guilty of letting the hype go to his head some, but Exhibit C is a great example of him treating hip hop like the story telling poetry that it used to be.  He’s on the record as being nostalgiac for where his music came from and does a great job of emulating those that came before him (see: Wu Tang, Rakim, Tu Pac, Biggie, & of course Nas).

#3: He loves what he’s doing.  Dude’s from New Orleans and got fucked by Katrina.  He ended up homeless, moved around from city to city until he ended up in New York where he finally got his shit together, got serious about making music, and made a name for himself. Take note of his popularity and how he achieved it: Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, & Blogs.  You can download damn near all of his music off the internet for free from blogs he leaks it all to.  He’s obviously making some money, but it seems like he isn’t super concerned with signing to a label and cashing in on all the hype.  He’s cool with opening for Mos Def & Nas, hanging with Diddly, Erykah Badu, working with Just Blaze and writing some fucking good music.

Jay Electronica is apparently working on his debut release and is leaking some of the material.  His hard times post Katrina seem to have given him an appreciation for his fame and the opportunities he has with his music, something that you not only hear in his lyrics, but in the video coming out with his new material, much of which was filmed in Nepal, Dubai, and other spots in South Asia.  This is yet another reason I’m really starting to love this artist.  I’ve been a hip hop fan since I was a lower case g (a tyke, for those not down with the nomenclature), and I can’t remember an artist who’s gained this much popularity across so many sub-genres of hip hop who would rather shoot his videos channeling Malcolm X with a bunch of Saddhu’s in South Asia than in front of (or in the vicinity) of his dope new ride, entourage around him, Hype Williams styles, or at the very least in the neighborhood he grew up in.

I realize this post got a lot longer than I anticipated, but it’s mostly because, although I hate to admit it, I believe the hype.  If you like hip hop, poetry, or just good music in general, his is a dude worth listening to over and over again.

Get his Victory Mixtape here. It’s 26 tracks and a good comprehensive mix of his work.

Check the leak of the video introduction to his upcoming album titled “Dear Moleskine”

The last reason (of this post) that I love Jay Electronica: he made me reconsider hating on Diddy.  I guess that could be seen as a strike against him, but I’m ready to stop hatin.  Check a live video of Jay, Mos Def, & Diddy among others performing Exhibit C:

In his own words: “My light is brilliant.” Believe the hype.

Goodnight via Beijing.



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