Jay Electronica is a mystery wrapped in a maze, a quandary draped in uncertainty, an enigma engulfed in a riddle, and that’s exactly why we love him. His music is amazing, but I think the real appeal is who he is, not solely the music he makes. Like Santa, God, UFOs or Big Foot, the belief that there is something bigger than us, something that defies all logical explanation and appeals to our hearts and imaginations, is what keeps Jay Electronica relevant. We want to believe he’s more than human, we want to believe he has a bigger plan in place than our feeble human brains can comprehend. Yes, we want Act II, but deep down, we all live for the mystery.
That's why we lose our minds whenever Jay Electronica news surfaces. Case in point, the recent unearthing of an ancient Jay Electronica demo. Amidst the internet freakout, the stream was pulled by Soundcloud and the only logical explanation is that Jay Electronica invented the internet and so he can make things vanish, reappear and vanish again at his choosing. It sounds crazy but it also totally isn’t; at this point, Elec is almost more myth than man. The whole saga got me thinking about something I came across last year but never got the chance to dig into. I figured now would be a perfect time to go back to it because it would both feed our need for some Jay Electronica news and pop the bubble that he is some alien sent here with plans for internet domination.
Let’s start with square one. Thanks to a reader tip, I got wind of an old Jay Electronica website and a supposed press release he crafted about being signed by Bad Boy. The site (Magnetik7.com) has since been shut down, but there’s this amazing little tool called the Wayback Machine which lets you view previous versions of old sites. The sites are often incomplete and mere skeletons, but it’s better than nothing. So I used the WBM on magnetik7.com and that's when things got interesting.
There’s not much to go on here. The only real clues to this actually being Jay Electronica are that picture on the top left that looks a hell of a lot like Jay and the link to the Farrakhan press conference. I was still not convinced, though, so I did some further digging. The site is full of dead ends and cold trails, but thankfully, there was one interesting piece that remained intact, an article published on May 1, 2004, titled “Diddy Signs A Heavyweight."
So what, I'm supposed to believe that back in 2004, Jay Electronica, at the time essentially a struggle rapper, made his own site which he used to write a fake news story about being signed to Bad Boy? Obviously, there’s no record of Bad Boy signing anyone in 2004. They released albums from Ma$e and 8 Ball & MJG that year, but the label never announced or hinted that they had signed Electronica, and when we reached out to Bad Boy they confirmed that Electronica had never signed with them. (Though Diddy was pissed in 2010 when he lost out on Jay to Roc Nation.)
What the hell? This can’t be real. There’s no way the wizard of hip-hop, Jay Electronica, once published a completely false and totally fake news story about Diddy signing him. Also, what was that note about The Source dubbing Lock, Stock the next five-mic album? No album by that name was ever officially released, though, a song entitled "Lock, Stock, and One Smokin' Barrel," rumored to be produced by J Dilla, might exist somewhere on a hard drive.
Making things even weirder, there’s a forum on SOHH around the same time which appears to be Jay Elec himself talking about his current situation with Bad Boy and a few of the songs off the tape. This feels more like the desperate attempt of a rapper to get some attention than the conduct becoming of an internet mastermind.
Part of me refused to believe this was actually Jay Electronica. I mean, he’s an alien sent here from another universe who has us wrapped around his finger, there’s just no way he was ever crafting fake news stories on crappy websites. Was somebody impersonating him? But who even knew he existed in 2004? How could he have his identity stolen before he was even a public figure? So I did some more digging about “Magentik7” and eventually, I came across a few posts on a coding forum from 2004.
This is when I started to believe this was Jay Electronica himself. First and foremost, the name was Jay Electronica, and as stated above, nobody knew he existed back then, so it's highly doubtful that anyone would take his name. Next, he specifically says “my site is magnetik7.com” which, as we established above, is the very same site that led to this investigation. The pieces are falling into place, so let’s put the whole puzzle together. Here's what I believe happened...
Back in 2004, Jay Electronica created a website himself in an effort to fabricate a news story about being signed to Bad Boy in an effort to garner buzz. Yeah, Jay Electronica was once so desperate he tried to manufacture his way to internet fame.
If you still don’t believe my theory, I have two more damning pieces of evidence. First, an old interview, in which he describes both the forums and previews his fake news story plot.
Jay Electronica: After Chav and I recorded War With the Dragon, we did the artwork and packaged maybe a hundred of them in DVD casing. We went to Dilla’s at like 2 in the morning, asked his permission to use a few of the records that were his on there to go to NYC and secure a deal. so like zealots, we went to Kinko’s and printed these fake front page newspaper articles about Jay Electronica etc… Then we drove from Detroit to NYC, when we got there, we went on impulse and plastered them all over the front of the building bad boy was in. At the time Diddy was supposed to be coming down or something, there was a caravan parked and waiting, so of course, they called security on us and we ended up having a little scene on the sidewalk. this sister Nicollet, after everything had calmed down, came over and asked for a few of the DVD’s we had and saw the flyer, she asked if we made films, so we gave them to her and bounced. Maybe an hour later we got a call saying that they wanted us to meet them at the studio and that Harve Pierre and some other guy, I can't remember his name, wanted to meet with us. So we went and they were filming Making The Band at the time and we ended up waiting a long time and were told that they would reschedule. So we ended up bouncing from NYC. Chav went to Detroit and I went to Mexico City with my man Born Righteous and Bad Boy contacted me down there to set up a meeting when I got back, but nothing ever materialized. As for the stuff on the SOHH forums, that’s a whole other story.
The parts that jumped out at me are in italics. First, he talks about creating “newspaper articles” about himself and spamming the Bad Boy office, which is the real-life version of what he did with Magnetik7.com. Second, he coyly acknowledges the SOHH forums. The part about Making The Band is also in italics because can we talk about how Diddy kept the rap game Jesus Christ waiting while filming Making The Band?
The last piece of evidence is a tad circumstantial, pretty minuscule, and not nearly as convincing as anything else, but for me, it’s what finally sold me. This evidence captures the essence of who Jay Elec is and ties the whole investigation together. If you’ll take a look back to what he posted on the coding forums, you’ll notice he has a signature that reads, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain,” a famous quote from the Wizard of Oz.
Exactly, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain... begging for help to build his website. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain... drafting fake news stories about himself in the third person. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain... posting those news stories on hip-hop forums.
That man is far different from the transcendent image we have of Jay Elec. That Oz quote so perfectly summarizes who Jay Elec is. We think of him as this great and powerful being, a god, but how much of that is reality and how much of it is Jay crafting and fabricating an image? This little investigation doesn’t change much, his music is still amazing and Act II is still never dropping, but it’s interesting to see how far he has come since 2004, and it definitely proves that Jay Electronica is, in fact, a human being.
Or maybe that’s what he wants us to think...