The first time I wrote a blog like this it was in reference to Lupe Fiasco. Immediately after posting it I told my brother that it was just a matter of time before I wrote another one for either Saigon, Papoose or whoever else is deemed the “Next Big Thing” or a term I prefer “The New Hip Hop Black Jesus”. In April 2008 following a supposedly subpar show I did another one for Jay Electronica. Let's go back in again 20 months after the fact, shall we?
It seems like people either put too much belief in one artist or they have these unrealistic expectations for these emcees. None of these cats is the modern day King Menes, meaning they aren’t going to bridge the gap between the commercial and underground and make it all one big united Hip Hop family again. It didn’t happen when Mos Def & Talib Kweli released the Black Star LP ten years ago and it won’t happen now.
Jay Electronica recently had a “sub par” show...whatever the hell that means. In my opinion, a show is pretty much dictated by the reception of the audience. If some cases you could have the nicest flow and the illest beats and the audience won’t give a damn because you aren’t one of the dudes that they’ve seen on one of the Viacom networks. I’ve seen Flo Rida live on TV and I personally thought he was terrible, the audience was dancing and singing along to “Low” and “Elevator” so I guess I was wrong, huh?
I’m so glad blogs didn’t exist when Black Moon stunk it up on their first ever live TV appearance on BET’s “Teen Summit”. Buckshot came out with too much energy and was jumping around like he was in the video for “Who Got The Props”, he was fighting for air before the first verse was through. I’ve seen Nas fax in “Half Time” and “It Ain’t Hard To Tell” MAD times in 1993 and 1994.
I’ve seen Rakim spit “Lyrics Of Fury” live while people just stared back at him with blank looks. I guess they expected him to have energy radiating from his hands like a comic book character while he spit it. They didn’t see what they saw in their mind’s eye when they heard the album so it was a disappointment in their eyes...but who’s fault was that exactly?
This performance occurred a while back but it's somehow STILL a subject of discussion in a world where things that happened yesterday are already forgotten because it’s “old news”. This lackluster performance on the part of Jay Electronica...was it merely an illusion?
Was it a creation caused by an audience that heaped a bunch of unrealistic expectations on his performance or was his actual live appearance so godawful that it actually warranted this protracted analysis of it? Or could it be that somewhere along the line someone exaggerated just how bad it was and everyone else jumped on the bandwagon?
I wasn’t there. I was HERE. I’ve seen different clips and read several eyewitness accounts where some people said the show outright sucked (but they weren’t feeling him beforehand anyways), others said that parts of it were awkward and that he talked on stage too much (note: avoid any Prodigy, KRS One, Wu Tang, Percee P, Kanye West, etc. show then. Them niggas will chat at the drop of a dime).
Others were enjoying the show because they loved the songs and were just hyped to see Jay Electronica live for a change as opposed to hearing him through iTunes. I’ve read some heads say that it wasn’t that big of a deal. To others, Jay Electronica is overhyped and undeserving of all of the attention that’s currently being lavished on him.
This bring us all to another deeper question. Why are we always trying to find and brand a new Hip Hop Saviour? Every time we find someone to heap this burden on they always fail to live up to it’s lofty expectations. I’ve seen it happen to Rakim, KRS One, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, Ice Cube, Chuck D, all the way down to Treach, Notorious B.I.G, Nas, Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Ras Kass, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Canibus, Eminem down to Saigon, Papoose, Lupe Fiasco and now Jay Electronica.
They were all supposed to singlehandedly “bring back” creativity, lyricism and excitement in Hip Hop. In effect, they were all expected to bring back “Hip Hop”. Can we cut this bullshit out, please? Why are we all so eager to put this burden on yet another emcees shoulders? So what if Jay Electronic did a live show and didn’t perform miracles on stage for an audience that were like “OK, justify all your press tonight on stage”.
I remember seeing a recorded performance of Kool G. Rap doing “Ill Street Blues” back in 1993. Homie forgot so many of the lyrics that the audience picked him up and recited the missing lyrics for him. They chucked the whole incident to the side and didn't focus on it because he had a body of work to refer to. That audience was not there to see Jay Electronica and he could've channelled LL Cool J circa 1986, it still would've done him no good.
Jay Electronica is not going to turn water to wine, walk on water or move objects with his mind during his live performances. He will move the crowd...provided that they WANT to move first. It all reminds me of that classic J-Live song “Hush The Crowd”. It’s days like this I really don’t regret hanging my mic up and swapping it for the laptop instead.
Epilogue: That brings us to the present day. This particular incident has all but been forgotten about as Jay Electronica recently finished a tour this Summer alongside Mos Def, Talib Kweli & DJ Hi-Tek among others to rave reviews. His output since includes "Swagger Jackson's Revenge", "Who's Gonna Save My Soul", "Not Too Far From Nothing", "Anakin's Prayer", "Hagler", "Exhibit A", "Exhibit B", "Suckas", "2 Step", "Dear Moleskine" and "Exhibit C" (many of which are just snippets or radio rips) from an as of yet unreleased project. As we approach 2010, Jay Electronica has the hottest song on iTunes & Amazon, his buzz is as big as ever but his album has no set release date as of yet (or label).
Jay Electronica has been the "next dude" and "the anointed one" since about 2007. He's currently considered one of the best emcees on the planet with one of the most anticipated Hip Hop projects of the past decade. Hopefully, in 2010 we'll finally get to hear what he's been working on seemingly forever. Hopefully.