Words By Jesse H.
Jesse H: So what you been listening to lately?
Be Lund: This and that, a lot of Southern shit, you know. But there’s also this Jay Electronica kid that everyone’s hyped up on, and his new joint has been blowing my mind for the past few weeks.
Jesse H: Jay Electronica? Aight I’ll check it out.
It’s not that my man Be Lund usually lets me down with his musical picks, but he just couldn’t have been more accurate with this one. The suggestion was so good, I almost wanted to save the AIM conversation, print it and frame it.
While it may be easy to get sucked into the vortex of hyperbole as a writer when you’re trying to promote the artists you like most, I don’t know how many people can deny that Jay Electronica’s The Pledge is one of the most ambitious Hip Hop projects ever (considering how some people view the industry perhaps that’s not much of a compliment). But for even those who consider the genre a place filled with few risk-takers, this project is in left field by any genre’s standards.
So who exactly is this guy? An underground sensation by the name of Jay Electronica, who, as evidenced by the foreword on The Pledge, has made friends with some of the right people in Hip Hop. Romantically he’s linked to Erykah Badu (who has quite the penchant for attracting some of Hip Hop’s more creative gentlemen), and is close personal friends with Just Blaze. How special is he? Special enough that he can have the first six and a half minutes of this sixteen minute project reserved for his friends to just gush about him. And gush they do. Just Blaze calls him, alluding to and dismissing the clichÃ© with all seriousness, a “brother from another mother,” while Erykah accurately describes him as a mythical otherworldly being who would “carry a bow and arrow on his back.” Not much else is known or published about Jay (try Googling him, there’s one article), but he comes from New Orleans and spent some time being homeless. Contrary to his geographical roots, the sound of the project sounds nothing like the traditional Southern sound.
What makes the project so different? The fact that all of the vocals, including that hefty introduction are placed on top of loops from the film score of “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” I’ve heard movie scores sampled in Hip Hop, but they’ve always been chopped, altered and fit into a Hip Hop formula, over fierce boom bap drums and accompanied by bass. Not on this. Jay lets the loops ride by themselves, and what beautiful loops they are. When the first loop kicks in after the intro, its impossible to even imagine a rapper laying a verse over it. There’s no drums, just an orchestral sway, typical for a film score but anything but for a Hip Hop project. Just when you’ve made up your mind that rhyming over the loop is pretty much impossible, Jay comes in and makes you sorry that you ever doubted the legitimacy of the project in the first place. Spitting is clearly something he can do well, very well in fact, and the way that he does it with such ease over the most unlikely of backdrops sets him on a planet of his own and hooks the listener from word one.
Sample lyric: “Go to work, go to church let your dreams die/ bowtie, Final Call & the beanpie./ Yarmulke for Hanukah/ Wish list for Christmas/ This is the gist of the life that we lead why…”
A standout line that would probably end a verse for most other MC’s, Jay buries it in the middle of his verse and keeps spitting, because he’s got so much more to say.
Broken up by snippets from other films, the most notable from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” Jay glides over four loops total from “Eternal Sunshine” and never does the novelty wear off. The first one still impresses me the most, but I think its because it has raised significance because it will always be one of those joints that I remember where I was when I first heard it.
After hearing this, I hope that Jay is able to utilize his connections in the industry and gain some more momentum and more fans. He is a truly unique artist who could bring a much-needed dash of originality to the game. While the project isn’t spotless (it’s not music that’s going to get a dance floor going by any means), it is music that will shine brightly, if not for eternity, than at least until the next time Jay Electronica brings a fresh idea to the table.
He even lets you download it for free on his MySpace, which you’ve gotta respect if the man’s chosen this as a career path.
Download – Act 1: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge) (Click on the big 17.8 MB)
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The Paperchase. FatKnots.com.