By Kristopher Tondré
Like sleep during finals week, new music from Jay Electronica is hard to come by and rarely ever present it seems. If it wasn’t for photos and those few verses he might release, you would think Electronica is nothing more than a myth, an urban legend that people tell just to see if you truly believe in the bizarre. This is typically why whenever his name is attributed to some song, it becomes news amongst rap nerds waiting for the man, born Timothy Thedford, to bless listeners with his poetry. Seriously, read the lyrics. Alone, without a backing beat, the depth of his words still carry weight.
“This the vivid memoirs of an obnoxious slave/I pave ways like Nat and Harriet/I blast Judas Iscariot and peel off in the chariot/I’m sitting pretty, spitting flames, gripping grains/Ain’t a damn thing changed” – Jay Electronica, “Exhibit A (Transformations).”
It’s his elegance as he swaggers over a track with such force in his step that caught listeners’ attention early on with releases such as Act I: Eternal Sunshine in 2007, or even the single “Exhibit A (Transformations)” which would release later in 2009. Rap fans and critics alike were drooling over this new emcee hailing from New Orleans, Louisiana that seemingly came walking out of a shroud of mist amidst a rap scene over saturated with ringtone raps and dance crazes. He would go on to receive cosigns from Just Blaze (Jay-Z, Kanye West, Mariah Carey), Diddy, Questlove, Erykah Badu and would sign a deal to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label in 2010. Though his studio debut album, Act II: Patents of Nobility, has reportedly been complete and was set to be released since 2009 when Electronica was still releasing music on MySpace, still nothing from the album has come to fruition besides a few songs, a tracklist that could prove to be fake, and a handful of entertainers claiming to have heard the album. In 2015 while performing at the CMJ Ballroom, Electronica teased fans and more or less told them he might simply delete the album.
With no album to speak of and rumored release dates making noise at least once a year whenever Electronica chooses to share a new song or verse, the few features that Electronica delivers on another artist’s song might be as close as we get to hearing him releasing anything new. He’s made appearances on songs with artists such as Curren$y, Mac Miller, Paul Wall, Chance the Rapper and most notably on Big Sean’s “Control” in 2013 along with Kendrick Lamar. Maybe if fans are lucky, Electronica might release a brand new song of his own. At this rate, it seems like at least once every year a song is released that coincides with the reported track-list to Act II with songs like “Better in Tune with the Infinite” or “Patents of Nobility” that have seen the light of day – but how long before so much time has passed that all these songs are released and there’s nothing left of the album? Will people still be checking for Jay Electronica?
With the release of Emeli Sandé’s “Garden” featuring Electronica and Áine Zion, fans now have some brand new verses to wet their appetite from the mythical being that is Jay Electronica. As much as I wish it was a song of his own, at this point, anything is better than nothing when it comes to new Electronica. Maybe by the time I pay off my student loans Electronica will finally bless the masses with his long awaited debut album. However, hoping for this album seems like hoping for a rich aunt that will leave you some inheritance to pay your bills and that only occurs in fairy tales.