Every time I think redundancy is a bad thing, I keep coming back (and back and back and back – who am I, Chris Berman?) to the evocative, post-underground stylings of Jay Electronica, specifically the incredible Exhibit C.
With his authoritative baritone placing him somewhere between Scarface and Rakim aesthetically, the content is reminiscent of. . .well, nobody. His native New Orleans sound is defined by a smooth complexity; an El-P apocalypse meets Jay Dilla soul, flipped with the ethos of DJ Premier.
While Jay’s hip-hop-is-not-dead-but-dont-call-it-rap milieu is shrouded in visually verbal similies & metaphors, the content is thick throughout. . .and keeps me coming back for more, more and MORE.
In the spirit of YKI’s journey to the South this weekend, I present Exhibit C, an outstanding post-underground record from hip hop’s savior/recluse Jay Electronica.
An intensely epic experience with resonant lyrical content and spectacular flow, Jay’s legend continues to grow. From his roots in New Orleans to living homeless after Katrina.
Searching for answers in an MPC player, Jay Electronica has incorporated the influences of DJ Premier, Jay Dilla and El-P together with the lyrical sensibilities of Andre Benjamin, Scarface and early Mos Def to form what may be the most accessible package of true hip hop since Aquemini.
Jay Electronica – Exhibit C
When I was sleepin on the train,
sleepin on Meserole Ave out in the rain
without even a single slice of pizza to my name
too proud to beg for change mastering the pain
when new york niggas were calling southern rappers lame,
but then jacking our slang
I used to get dizzy spells
and hear a little ring
the voice of a Angel
telling me my name
telling me that one day imma be a great man transforming with the MegatronDon spittin out flames,
eatin wack rappers alive shittin out chains.
I ain’t believe it then.
Nigga I was homeless
Fightin, shootin dice, smokin weed on the corners
tryna find the meaning of life in a corona
till the 5 percenters rolled up on a nigga and informed him:
“you either build or destroy. Where you come from?”
“The Magnolia projects in the 3rd ward slum”
“Hmmm… its quite amazing that you rhyme how you do
and how you shine like tou grew up in a shrine in Peru.”
Question14 – Muslim Lesson 2: Dip over, Civilize a 85er.
I make the devil hit his knees and say the Our Father.
You rockin with the True and Living
shot out to Lights Out, Joseph I, Chewy Bivens,
shout out to Baltimore, Baton Rouge, my crew in Richmond.
While y’all debated who the truth was like Jews and Christians
I was on Cecil B, Broad Street, Master, North Philly, South Philly, 23rd, Tasker.
6 mile, 7 mile, Hartwell, Gratiot: Where niggas really would pack a uhaul truck up,
put the high beams on, drive up on the curb at a barbecue and hop out the back like “what’s up!”,
kill a nigga, rob a nigga, take a nigga, bust up.
That’s why when you talk the tough talk I never feel ya.
You sound real good and you play the part well, but the energy you givin off is so unfamiliar.
Nas hit me up on the phone, said “What you waitin on?”
Tip hit me up with a twitt, said “What you waitin on?”
Diddy send a text every hour on the dot sayin “When you gon drop that verse nigga you taking long”
So now I’m back spittin that He Could Pass A Polygraph
that Reverend Run rockin adidas out on Hollis Ave
That FOI, Marcus Garvey, Nikki Tesla
I shock like a eel
They call me Jay Electronica
Call me Jay ElecHannukah
Jay ElecRamadaan Muhammad Asalaamica RasoulAllah Supana Watallah through your monitor.
My uzi still weighs a ton check the barometer
I’m hotter than the muthafuckin sun check the thermometer.
I’m bringing ancient mathematics back to modern man.
My momma told me never throw a stone and hide your hand.
I got a lot of family, you got a lot of fans.
That’s why the people got my back like the Verizon man.
I play the back and fade to black and then devise a plan.
Out in London, smoking, vibin while I ride the tram.
Givin’ out that raw food to lions disguised as lambs,
And, by the time they get they seats hot,
And deploy all they henchmen to come at me from the treetops,
I’m chillin out at Tweetstock,
Building by the millions,
My light is brilliant.
Guru, hip hop mastermind and lyrically conscious frontman for the seminal 90’s underground group Gangstarr, has officially passed away at age 43.
Best remembered for his smooth, relaxed, conscious rhyme style, he partnered with the legendary DJ Premier to form an unparalleled duo, helping define Real Hip Hop, a necessity during hip hop’s dark age (mid-90’s, Puffy vs. West Coast ‘gangsta’).
Ever since they would Step In the Arena in 1991, they defined the underground sound. Albums such as Hard to Earn and Daily Operation – while not always commercially successful – were mellifluous elixir for the headz that yearned to escape from the typical “bitches, hoes, 40’s & blunts” sound that dominated the airwaves.
During this period, Guru’s vision expanded to the true roots of Hip Hop with his revolutionary Jazzmatazz sequence of four albums featuring a wide specter of artists from Branford Marsalis to french lyricist MC Solaar to Donald Byrd to the Solsonics. He reunited with Guru for the introspective, evocative Moment of Truth in 1998, which showcased the duo’s wide range and consistent sound, providing a timeless stamp on their legacy.
It is sad news that Guru passed, but his battle with cancer and subsequent cardiac arrest/coma was too much to overcome. Guru will be missed, but his vocals, sensibilities and overall ‘hiphopness’ will be forever indelibly embedded in the hip hop ethos. Guru, enjoy your time Above the Clouds.
Following in the footsteps of Hip Hop Renaissance and Renaissance II, YKI Records has just released Hip Hop Renaissance III: A-Side/B-Side, featuring more of the late-90’s through 2004 sound, or the third Golden Age of Hip Hop. Jean Grae, Phonte, Murs and 9th continue to define the sound, as the ‘Jay Dilla’ era/influence is definitely in full effect. Check out the new joints from Jay Electronica & Black Milk for a newer, credible sound. Enjoy, and hit me for a copy.
Ridiculous – DJ JS-1 ft. OC & Pharoahe Monch, Common
Barbershop – Murs & 9th Wonder ft. Rapper Big PoohNo Fear – Cool Cee Brown ft. Phonte & Asheru
Preservation – Aesop Rock, Del tha Funkee
Exhibit A – Jay Electronica
No Fear – Cool Cee Brown ft. Phonte & Asheru
The Matrix – Black Milk ft. Pharoahe Monch, Sean Price, DJ Premier
Biochemical Equation – MF Doom, RZA
Guns Are Drawn – The Roots
Next Day – Phonte
Speakin’ – El da Sensai
Air Wars – Crystal Castles
The Time Is Now – Jean Grae & 9th Wonder ft. Phonte
Nostalgia – Masta Ace ft. Marco Polo
Let it Go – The Herbaliser ft. What What (Jean Grae)
Dilla Forever – Scienz of Life
Exhibit C – Jay Electronica
Three Slims Dynamite – Digable Planets (unreleased)