“Best rapper alive” a term filled with hubris and informed by an overtop sense of youthful confidence thats vicarious as it is intoxicating. The MC since his inception in the burroughs of New York stepped to the microphone with a profound sense of purpose but also with a sense that he had to constantly fight to establish his right to pick up the mic. So in a sense unlike any other form of music, hip hop has always had a very deep sense of competitiveness. In this tradition of competitiveness rappers have for a long time claimed the mythical title of best rapper alive since the first MC’s picked up mics in the parks of New York.This argument was easily one of my favorite arguments to have with people. I love to ask why I like what I like and what what I like says about me. In a way art allows us to confront ourselves in ways we can’t to most people. This is what I think about when I fuck with Jay Electronica’s music. From the first song I heard by him, I got the sense that this is a cat trying to connect with a larger reality than his on, a cat with a craft informed by a profound sense of purpose. He embodies perfection in MC-ing,a very well oiled vocal instrument that cuts through beats like a knife through butter.Then a flow that has the conversational intimacy of a biggie/jay-z but he also has a mastery of diction that would make many emcees cry.
One thing that has bored me about new rappers, is a lack of mysticism, or a loss of the afro-futurism that the 5% nation gave us in the form of Rakim & The Wu-Tang Clan.His raps are also informed by a space-age mind, a mind thats part Sun-Ra part Farrakhan. He is also an rapper informed by the fiery black-pride of the N.O.I. Yet his sophistication exists in the fact that he acknowledges his aspirations for profound spirituality while existing in a culture that often celebrates death & money.
For me great rappers have to be able to make me see shit and this dude sense of the third eye is mad wicked. His storytelling capabilities can only stand along side Notorious B.I.G.
On the song DMT, Jay taps into black paranoia and provides an anguish driven description of a dream he had about the seedy underbelly of secret societies.
Like a lot of the God mc’S he is an ace at taking random phrases and making them sound like biblical proclamations like “Phantom of the ChakraH”
He connects himself to a deep well spring of afro-futurism, science fiction, New Age spirituality, eastern thought and street talk. He fuses these elements to create music thats equal parts profound and unapologetically deep.
Like most people I peeped this cat when I heard the song Exhibit A and i was blown away. His vivid descriptions accompanied by an astute sense of history and pop culture the very ingredients that made B.I.G great. But jay goes further his flow is slow, deliberate and his enunciation is uncluttered.
By the time he dropped Exhibit C, I had declared him the sickest cat on the microphone.
My only problem with this cat is, I need to hear his first full length.
He has the makings of the next great MC, even greater than Kendrick I just don’t what him to lose his fire.
Rap music is obsessed with messianic figures and one of the characteristics of messianic figures is that they will often declare themselves as messiahs (Think Jesus in the bible) hence the popularity of the phrase best rapper alive. But this cat from the offset set himself apart because his music was stepped in such mystery and his writing skills were so above the par, especially considering this cat was from New Orleans.
When I heard the cat rap over Jon Brions Eternal Sunshine joint, I was floored and listened to it on repeat for days.