Artist Spotlight – Rapper Jay Electronica

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Born in the Magnolia Projects of New Orleans, LA, artist and producer Jay Electronica (born Timothy Elpadaro) has created quite a buzz for himself–his fanbase greatly expanding with the release of the Just Blazed-produced track, “Exhibit C”. The powerful beat you can’t help but to nod your head to mixed with sensible lyrics garnered much attention, including mine. Rapping straight through the verses on the Exhibit trilogy, I intently listened to each verse in its entirety, not needing a catchy chorus to keep my interest. I was fully tuned in. It was the first time I’d even heard of someone named Jay Electronica. But as soon as the first run of Exhibit C finished, I was on the search for more. Discovering parts A and B of the Exhibit series and the popular compilation The Pledge: Eternal Sunshine, I fell in love.

As soon as The Pledge began to play, nothing else mattered but my mind and ears. Soaking up the lyrics, my mind created mini-movies to illustrate the words he rapped, envisioning a man who had dreams to become a superstar but has led a life of working a 9-to-5 he has no passion for (“Go to work, go to church, let your dreams die/Bowtie final call in the beanpie”), and a paper cut from white paper hearts in the hands of a child (“The handling of a heart’s a very delicate art ’cause it’s paper thin/One irrelevant thought that started out as a spark/Could be a poisonous dart that leaves a permanent mark”). Jay Electronica was bringing simplicity and meaning back to hip hop with the 4-part collection, telling stories and including imagery to create vivid mental pictures. Rapping about various subjects on each piece, Jay Electronica looped pieces from Jon Brion’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack, adding no bass or instruments whatsoever. What he created was something like a masterpiece. The Pledge is one of Jay Electronica’s most talked about, well known creations. Yet, The Pledge and the Exhibit trilogy isn’t all he’s known for. While in Detroit, Jay Electronica hooked up with Mike “Chav” Chavarria where he asked late producer-phenom J Dilla (RIP) permission to use his instrumentals. From there, Style Wars was created, featuring tracks such as “So What You Sayin'” and “Abaracadabra”.

His sound is simple; he raps with a mellow voice, not overhyping his sound with fluctuating intonations. His lyrics speak for themselves–poetic even if you were to read the lyrics alone. It’s evident Jay Electronica can beast over something as simple as looped chimes or a South-inspired, bass heavy instrumental. Jay Electronica is truly proving to be one of the few fresh breaths we’re blessed to take in the midst of a polluted rap game.

Written by Natasha Anglade for Parlé Magazine

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