What The F*ck Is A Jay Electronica? The name of one of his many mixtapes, of course. But really, who is this New Orleans shadow of Nas that once traded his sunglasses to an audience member for a blunt, gives away his music, and even tweeted the birth of his child? Potentially, the new hope for hip-hop, with an experimental twist — innovation, sampling, and a lyrical aptitude that make me believe in Southern hip-hop again on a whole different level.
DatPiff.com released one of their Best Of, So Far mixtapes hosted by DJ AH that narrows Jay Electronica’s past releases on the site down to 40 tracks, jam-packed with original movie samples and added intermissions that really let his personality shine through, giving you an idea of who Jay is.
Best Of, So Far: Jay Electronica is like a looking glass into his personal life, his emotions penetrating the flow of every track, yet simultaneously being able to hearten lines like “call me Jay Elec-Hanukkah, Jay Elec-Yarmukle.” One thing Jay has down is versatility, combining abstract narratives, beats from J Dilla, and movie soundtracks (such as the second track, “Eternal Sunshine,” a compressed version of the three-part track on his What The F*ck Is A Jay Electronica mixtape, where he samples Jon Brion’s score for “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”)
The introductions on a good bit of the tracks drag on longer than I’d like, but once the build-up unleashes Jay’s lyrical release, I find myself wanting more. Ultimately, “Katrina The Levees Broke,” track 37 on the tape, made me look into this realization. Gene Wilder’s tunnel song from the classic “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” seems aimless, and the tone of his verses thereafter sound, well, colorless. But piece it together, and the overall dreariness of the track takes on a deeper meaning that builds a swell of emotion and sadness for those in New Orleans living in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
The smooth transitions between Jay’s consistent and experimental samples and his lyrical story-telling in each track collectively make Best Of, So Far a true stream of consciousness, an unbroken flow of thought and awareness of the waking mind.