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Jay Electronica and the art of releasing one rap song a year

Fans can’t quit him no matter how little he shows up.


Clyde Lovellette


Posted on Feb 17, 2016   Updated on May 27, 2021, 5:05 am CDT

Mystic war hero Jay Electronica set the rap Internet ablaze with a new song this week. On it he performed like a cage fighter, and took shots at headlining commodity Kendrick Lamar for being a “sambo.”  For now, however, his sacred-scroll mp3s remain as frustratingly sparse as ever. 

It was more than six years ago that Jay Electronica rose to prominence in the rap scene with a couple of singles and a newborn with the queen of neo-soul, Erykah Badu. He was immediately hailed as a savior of sorts by the blog crowd for his conscious lyrics and weathered, witty wordplay.

Electronica was already in his 30s when he released “Exhibit A” and “Exhibit C” in 2009. He arrived complete with a nomadic, almost Biblical story of traipsing the country, spending time in most every major city from Houston to New York—accruing knowledge along the way. If it were 1992, he definitely would’ve been the subject of an “Unsigned Hype” article in the Source.

It didn’t take too long for Electronica to be signed by a label. He joined Jay Z’s Roc Nation and soon after did a song with the label head himself, “Shiny Suit Theory.” It was good enough to forget that Electronica really only had a total of three songs out. (There was also a 15-minute rap from Electronica’s Myspace days and some other early music that began to surface.)

But there’s never been a follow-up album, extended play, or even a real single. This has left fans both completely frustrated by the output and also drawn in by the increasing mythos. During one of his extended breaks between releasing music, it was reported that he had been dating a member of the infamous Rothschild family–and in turn cuckolding her now ex-husband.

No matter how disappointing Electronica’s verse-a-year output continues to be, rap blogs and people on the Internet who love enlightened, dense, and academic rap can’t help but flip when Electronica does put out music. In 2013, that was by accident with the Big Sean song “Control.” Social media likewise went crazy when the other featured artist on the song, Kendrick Lamar, listed a number of other rappers he openly claimed to be better than.

The next year birthed the fantastic “Better in Tune with the Infinite” and in 2015 there was “Road to Perdition” along with strong hints that an actual album was brewing. Any time a new song by him surfaces, it’s usually so good it can’t be ignored. Fans can’t quit him no matter how little he shows up.

Electronica continued his molasses-slow rollout on Monday with the song “The Curse of Mayweather.” Over rolling percussion, Jay covers a whole lot of ground with his lyrical miracles. He quotes A Tribe Called Quest, references Ronda Rousey, Jango Fett, Nikola Tesla, and Henry Kissinger, plus the line, “It’s magic the way I created fame out of folklore/We got bigger than Tom Hanks when he was playing by the Zoltar.”

The most notable thing about “Mayweather” is that it dropped following a seething Periscope session that the rapper broadcast last week. In it he once again mentioned the “upcoming” album that’s been in progress for the better part of a decade, and he said some slick stuff toward Grammys leading man Lamar and former superstar arena rapper, 50 Cent. It basically amounted to “I’m a better rapper than you,” but it’s the most attention around his name in years. 

But if the past is any indication, rap bloggers will have to wait at least another year for Electronica to say anything else.

Screengrab via b1tchlizard/YouTube

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*First Published: Feb 17, 2016, 4:55 pm CST