What's the famous adage? "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Well, for my relationship with Jay Electronica, it's, "Fool me once shame on you. Fool me seven hundred thousand times, shame on me."
After years of waiting and years of defending him as one of the best emcees around (despite being called a Stan more times than the creator of Spiderman), I'm officially announcing my retirement from Jay Electronica.
I just can't do it anymore. I'm frustrated. Very frustrated. I have been waiting for Act II for literally years now, and every so often Jay comes out of the woodwork to hop on a guest verse, perform at a show or gallivant around town with his Illuminati wife and where I would once stop what ever I was doing to devour the table scraps he threw, now I am left with the worst feeling an artist can give the audience; apathy.
It took me a few days to listen to his work on Common's "Kingdom (Remix)" and while his verse is all well and good, I just don't have the interest anymore. It's scary, especially considering a mere 17 months ago I was writing things like,
Who is the best emcee in the game today? Kendrick? Jay-Z? Maybe 3 Stacks? Kripsy Kreme? While all those (minus Krispy Kreme) are arguable, I think the answer might come from someone whose biggest problem is that they aren’t “in the game” enough; Jay Electronica. It might seem crazy because he has yet have an album drop and is quite erratic in his releases, but when he does release something, there is no denying his elite status.
Jay used to represent everything I loved about hip-hop. His music was of the upmost quality and he was so different from any other emcee while still be more or less a "traditional", back-to-basics rapper. I first fell in love with "Just Begun" as his verse always stands out among some truly great rappers - he matches Cole's input with ease though this is easily one of Cole's best verses - because there was something magical about him. After "Just Begun" I really dug in and found an emcee who I truly believed could change things (I legitimately thought he could be one of the best rappers ever). I remember nearly crying listening to Act I on a ride home from college as I meandered through the backwoods of Pennsylvania, marveling at his abstract yet fluid approach and knack for samples. Shit, when "Exhibit C" comes on! No matter the season or the weather, every window is going down and I'm turning it up to 11.
However, more than any one song or verse, it's what he represented. Since becoming a Jay Stan, I have been enamored at the thought of Act II dropping and changing how we all thought about rap (the way GKMC did for some); proof hip-hop could be both impactful and enjoyable. I was so excited for the album, because it would be the doctrine I would use to prove hip-hop's validation to those who don't see what I see. Jay represented all I wanted from hip-hop, until he became all I despised; an image with no truth, a giant broken promise. Where prophetic, messiah-like his lines about the change he was going to bring once brought me joy and excitement, now they make me laugh. We have been waiting for so long, it feels like it was all a hoax. Now it feels like nothing more than meaningless jargon, another rapper over-exaggerating his already overinflated self-worth.
To go from calling him one of the best emcees in the game to completely apathetic is a striking change. Normally, my changes in tastes and altitudes are gradual, wavering back and forth on a spectrum, but I can tell you the exact moment I was done with Jay Electronica. It's when I heard this....
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I get sick of people coming out and hyping the album like it's the most innovative artifact of human history since the goddamn wheel, but I can deal with that. If Jay wants to hide in the background and remain suspiciously inconspicuous in the face of a hundred million hungry hip-hop heads and let others do the talking, fine. I can deal with his eccentricity and deafening silence if it means getting some great music one day. But when you come out and say things like, "I have enough content for many albums," and never release any of it, it feels like a slap in the face.
No Jay, I don't "know how it go." Explain to me how you have enough material for multiple albums, but only surface for a remix here and there? I was under the impression that rappers release music, but if that's not the case I'd be interested in hearing how it works.
Seeing how blasé he was about the whole situation kind of turned me off (if only he could have seen my face the first time I heard Act II). If I were him I would be doing what ever I could to appease my patient fan base, not saying, "Yeah I have a lot of songs but don't really feel like releasing them...sorry." He may be a great rapper, but nobody is good enough to alienate and disrespect their fans for years and years.
But for Jay Elec it's about more than the music...
The only problem is that for us, the fans, it's about the music. We live and breathe this, our night is made by a cool new song, and we dedicate hours to finding all the samples in Act I. So for us, those who don't have billionaire wives, there isn't anything bigger than the music. In fact, the music is the only thing that matters. Before this, I would have happily forgiven Jay for making me wait an eternity, but now that I see he has no clue or no concern for the fans, I can't wait any longer. I'm done. Maybe I'm missing the point and don't understand how the industry works. Maybe it's not his fault. Still, the way he carries on about is very unappealing. I'm not going to allow him to come and go as he pleases, worshiping the dirt he left tracked on the carpet, when there are artist working hard just to make it in the door in the first place. I am officially boycotting any and all Jay Electronica until the release of Act II.*
You need us more than we need you, Jay, and if you aren't careful, we won't have you back like the Verizon man.
*I hereby reserve the right to withdraw and/or restart my boycott when I see fit (I'm still a fan after all).
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is “College Dropout,” but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]