No Trivia

Don’t Wrap Up Rap Just Yet: Jay Electronica

leave a comment

There’s nothing wrong with Freddie Gibbs–though, that there’s nothing wrong with him is indeed, what’s wrong with him–but his raps and his business model served-up to contrast with hip-hop’s bleeding into lots of more old/newfangled pop sounds, as they are in Sasha Frere-Jones’ “Wrapping Up”, is problematic. Gibbs does worker-bee, working-class, crime-tinged hip-hop really well but that’s about all he does. And this might something to note or celebrate in terms of hip-hop as a genre if indeed, there weren’t still a shit-ton of dudes stretching the 90s rap form to its limits and not simply carrying on the tradition.

Jay Electronica, whose style, though primarily pulled from 90s New York rap, pads that kind of buzzing lyricism with the sound of the South (dude was born in New Orleans) is indeed the actual future of hip-hop. Like a Jim Jarmusch of rap, Electronica’s art brims with a wordly-wise sense place (or lack thereof) as everything gets all muddled and global. He doesn’t have a label. He tours. He drops a few songs and year and every one of them is a fucking event. He’s Web 2.0 (or whatever point-”o” we’re now on) and aggressively throwback, all at the same time.

The internet-wide rewindable on his latest song, “Exhibit C”, is a prime example of 90s rap insular word-combo rapping for the sake of rapping and some personal/political/world-at-large type stuff that’s deeply rooted in the concerns of the now: “They call me Jay Electronica/Fuck that! Jay Elec Hannukah/Jay Elec yamulka/Jay Elec Ramadan Muhammad Asalam Alakum/Rasoul Allah supana watallah through your monitor.” And to boot, “Exhibit C” has some references to the East jacking the South’s slang and a touch of self-mythology all wrapped in genuine, earthy struggles: homelessness, hunger, violence and all that good stuff. The song was posted on blogs as varied as Nahright and Dirty Glove Bastard and everything in between.

Oh yeah…and the lines before that quotable bounce from an old-school rap references, to a laundry-list of seemingly disconnected things (Fruit of Islam or Friends of Israel maybe both , Garvey, Tesla) to an MGMT reference. And it’s all rapped over a fluttering soul-beat–which is deceptive because Jay is just as known to rap over mega baroque, synthy soul beats (“Exhibit A”) and beatless, crystalline loops of something or other (“Act I”) as he is something this stirring though conventional though no less glorious.

further reading/viewing:

-”Wrapping Up” by Sasha Frere-Jones from The New Yorker
-”Das Racist to Sasha Frere-Jones: Stop Killing Rap”
-”Audio: Jay Electronica – Exhibit C [Prod. by Just Blaze] (Radio Rip)” from Dirty Glove Bastard

Written by Brandon

October 29th, 2009 at 2:26 am

Posted in Jay Electronica

Leave a Reply