The legend of Jay Electronica runs deep despite the rapper having what many have considered an incomplete career in part because of his sparse, sporadic offerings of [top-notch] music over more than a decade since he first left his indelible mark on the genre’s collective consciousness and beyond. And in a classic response from hip-hop heads who knew real talent when they heard it, diehards got extra mad when the upstart rapper who eventually went on to become a veteran refused to supply their demand for new material on their timetable, not his own.
But fast-forward to early Friday morning and the New Orleans native has finally released his long-awaited/delayed debut album, “A Written Testimony,” and early returns from listeners chiming in on social media are that his inaugural opus is everything his faithful fanbase has been calling for since he dropped his signature “Exhibit C” back in 2009.
The new album sees Jay-Electronica, known for subtly kicking knowledge in his lyrics while not coming across as lecturing his listeners, mainly stick to many of his familiar pro-Black themes chock full of historical references. But it also features the unexpected heavy contributions from Jay-Z, who is in peak rapper form with lyrics that are more learned than they’ve ever been (including a sharp clap-back to critics who had plenty to say when he teamed up with the NFL).
It’s a badge of honor that Jay Electronica was proudly wearing on the album: “My debut album featuring Hov, man, this is highway robbery, it’s like I hit the lottery,” he raps on the second-to-last song, “Ezekiel’s Wheel,” which also features singer The-Dream.
But that part was immediately apparent after a recording of Nation Of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan offering pro-Black commentary to open. That’s when the first voice heard on the first track with rapping was Jay-Z’s on “The Ghost of Soulja Slim.” From that point on, eight more fulfilling songs complete the new album, with all but one of them (“Shiny Suit Theory”) being previously unreleased.
Aside from Jay-Z and The-Dream, Travis Scott is the only other artist featured on the album, which makes for a brief 39-minutes’ long listening experience that people on social media greeted warmly. That type of response wasn’t guaranteed since the instant gratification demand often seen from rap fans has been largely ignored by Jay Electronica over the years.
But through it all, his and Jay-Z’s relationship was being documented on wax, hitting a crescendo back in 2014 when they performed at the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival in what felt like a historic moment.
Almost six years later both Jays dropped Jay Electronica’s debut album, something that pushed his name to be one of the top trending topics on Twitter hours after it was released. Scroll down to see Jay Electronica’s album reviewed in tweets.