Jay Electronica resists the mainstream

Mike Turzilli

The rap genre has changed at a faster rate than any other music style. Rap and hip-hop’s origins can be traced back to New York, where the lyrical content can be described as “conscious.” Rappers aim to use their art to express their deepest and most interesting thoughts.

Unfortunately, current mainstream rap music is far less intellectual than it once was. Today’s popular rappers tend to scream about guns and drugs, rather than speak about real issues. It’s lucky for true hip-hop fans that New Orleans native Jay Electronica holds the power to alter rap’s current state.

Jay Electronica originally gained recognition in 2007 through his MySpace page. In 2008, he received a great deal of press from numerous news and music sources, consistently being referred to as a “hip-hop anti-hero.”

Flash forward to 2011, and one would expect to see Jay Electronica on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, with his album at the top of the charts. However, this has yet to become a reality. Jay still remains extremely underground, and has yet to release a full studio album. Jay’s absence from the hip-hop community has left his established fans disappointed. Furthermore, he has left his potential fans to resort to far less interesting mainstream rap.

Jay’s reluctance to rise to prominence has made him an enigma. His track “Exhibit C” was labeled by New Musical Express as “the most accomplished piece of ‘conscious rap’ this millennium — perhaps ever.” In the track, Jay makes the arrogant statement that rappers such as Nas, P. Diddy and Q-Tip have begged him to collaborate. Clearly, Jay’s current underground state is not a matter of poor exposure.

The fact that Jay Electronica’s music has not yet merged into mainstream is truly tragic. His songs have intricately placed words that come together to create a remarkable flow. His lyrics often force the listener to rewind the track in order to fully capture what he is saying. Take the track “Abracadabra” for example. Jay spews the lyric, “It’s the metaphysical, Dolby Digital / any Joe’ll tell you the flow is so pivotal / every word is literal.” Jay uses a rapid-fire rhyme scheme that comes at the listener like a stream of bullets. Verses such as this require several replays to fully comprehend his lyrics.

With Jay’s incredibly unique rapping skills and his tremendous amount of exposure, fans are left with only one question: Why would one of the modern world’s greatest rappers refuse to release a full album and potentially dominate the genre of rap? This question has left countless sources baffled. It seems as if everyone wants to see Jay Electronica rise to fame except for one person: himself.