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No Country for Old (Rap) Men: Jay Electronica—rap genius or nah?

"Has there ever been a rapper with so much hype who has managed to underachieve as consistently as this man?" Robbie investigates

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Jay Electronica. The name alone is enough to elicit a hearty laugh. As I’ve previously pontificated, his nom d’plume sounds like something he concocted with Rap Name Generator on somebody’s MySpace page (Childish Gambino fared somewhat better in this regard). Were the other options J-Techno, Ray Reggaton, or Dubstep Dave?

Turns out that since he abandoned his trips to Nando’s with his former flame Kate Rothschild (“He’s very old-fashioned — when they go out, he pays his way..she’d far rather go to Nando’s than sit in a VIP suite sipping Bollinger and chatting to chinless wonders), he’s decided to embark on a new US tour. This makes perfect sense for a rapper who has yet to release an album, right? ‘For $75, you too can witness Jay Electronica perform his zero hits and those two tracks that were popular on the internet!’ It’s not as if dude hasn’t got any material, if the folders of ‘unreleased’ Jay Elec songs floating around are anything to go by. Assuming he can dedicate as much time to planning his tour as he assigns to trolling people on Twitter, Jay will be providing a spectacle which will put Kanye’s Yeezy pyramid to shame.

In the wake of his Kendrick disrespect on a live Periscope feed (whatever that is), JE dropped ‘The Curse of Mayweather’, which is peppered with mild subliminal jabs at both the TDE head honcho and Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson for reasons I can’t summon the energy to a) care about; or b) research. The sad state of rap today dictates that Twitter conflicts and threatening and/or humorous Youtube videos are far more entertaining than any so-called diss records.

I personally blame this half-hearted trend of using subliminals, which can later be denied, rather than the grand old tradition of threatening to kidnap your opponent’s children and whatnot. Tim Dog nearly got shot just for daring to perform ‘Fuck Compton’ in LA, while both MC Hammer and E-40 allegedly put out contracts on the heads of 3rd Bass and Biggie Smalls respectively for slights against their character. Compare that to a few lines which require entire blog posts explaining who, how, and why they’re targeting, and it’s hard to give two solitary fux.

But back to the topic at hand. Has there ever been a rapper with so much hype who has managed to underachieve as consistently as this man? Having been signed to Roc Nation since 2010, he has yet to have anything green-lit. Meanwhile, rap snoozefest incarnate J.Cole has managed to pump out three LPs with only 12 month’s head-start on his labelmate. Even Willow Smith, who signed the same year, managed to eke out an official release last December after five years of whipping her hair back and forth or whatever she does in between facial piercings.

The album ‘done been’ finished for a long time, as Just Blaze has previously confirmed. It’s apparently 16 tracks in length and may or may not be titled Act II. Maybe it’s for the best this way. Not releasing the album means that it can forever hold a mystique and won’t ever have to bare the brunt of disappointing anyone. As is often said, some things are a lot better left to our imagination than in practice, not unlike the first time most people get laid.

Perhaps we’ve been looking at this all wrong, judging Mr Electronica based on an outmoded set of standards. One might argue that Jay has tapped into the spirit of the ‘meh’ generation and embraced the hipster code of never trying too hard. It’s one thing to record an album, that’s all well and good, but actually making it commercially available? Too mainstream, man! That’s for out-of-touch old guys like Beyoncé’s husband. Come to think of it, dude is able to tour the world on the strength of one song from seven years ago. Maybe he’s got it all figured out after all…

Keep up with Robbie’s weekly ‘No Country for Old (Rap) Men’ here.

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