Crystal Balls: Jay Electronica Re-Appears

Tosten Burks can’t do anything without consulting his crystal first. Jay Electronica has been shamed. What feels like lifetimes ago, he emerged on top of a movie score, an Asiatic blackman from...
By    March 17, 2014

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Tosten Burks can’t do anything without consulting his crystal first.

Jay Electronica has been shamed. What feels like lifetimes ago, he emerged on top of a movie score, an Asiatic blackman from Zion dishing drumless God-hop intertwined with Willy Wonka monologues. He was a myth that stunned the internet and impregnated Erykah Badu. Two years later, he dropped two epics with Just Blaze that justified the hype. Then he disappeared.

As the story goes, he started schmoozing with the Rothschilds, spurned Diddy for Roc Nation, and reveled in reclusiveness. The few songs freed in the time since haven’t tided the world over as much as they have provoked our greed. Revealed to be a savior too self-conscious to appease his people, fans gave up hope and laughed him off. What pretention must consume this hermit, with his overblown intros and fear of rejection? A public still utterly incapable of understanding mental health issues has no time for a poet’s self-hatred.

So no one was surprised when last year’s screen-shotted track list amounted to nothing. Neither was anyone surprised when news came out that an apparently finished Act II was shelved again, for lack of a single. Jay had balked a dozen too many times and the world moved on. We all tuned out on “Control” after Kendrick called himself the King of New York.

This is a long way of saying that you could be forgiven for not caring that Electronica released a song this weekend. “Better In Tune With the Infinite” will most likely lead nowhere. The Elijah Muhammad and Profesor Marvel samples, the Babel violins, the applause that opens the verse, they all reek of a self-pitying egoism that could understandably be taken as tone-deaf. And yet…

Jay Electronica knows his time has passed, but the moment never mattered. “They might can feel the music, but could never ever feel me,” he says, a reminder that a lyricist this lofty never cared about record sales. A release date can’t reveal him; only the sunrise and the moon tides and the sky. Letting loose a verse this brittle does mean something. Opening up about one’s vulnerability is a powerful response to years of criticism of that very vulnerability.

“Exposed and naked in a world full of hatred” is where his career stands, and Jay is well aware. Whispers bounce off the New Orleans bayous, but the universe is listening, even if the world stopped a long time ago. If not for living up to our demands and dreams, be thankful for his honesty. One day he will return to his people, a manifest. Tomorrow is always on the way — or not.

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