Jay Electronica Explains Why He Has Not Released His Album Yet (Video)

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Hip-Hop Fans, we need your help...We recently launched AFH TV, a streaming video service focused on Hip-Hop culture. We already have exclusive interviews, documentaries, and rare freestyles featuring some of Rap’s most iconic artists and personalities. But, there is so much more to come--movies, TV series, talk shows--and we need your support to make it a reality. Please subscribe to AFH TV. It is only $1.99/month or $12/year, and offers 30-day free trials. Thank you.

Few albums not named Detox have the lore of Jay Electronica’s long-awaited debut album, Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn). When Dr. Dre released the Compton album and officially scrapped the infamous Detox, Jay Elec’s LP became the last unicorn standing.

Since his 2007 mixtape, Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge), Electronica has been heralded as one of Hip-Hop’s finest wordsmiths of the millennium. However, his output has been sparse, to say the least, in the years that followed. His reclusiveness and lack of constant catalog has run directly counter to an era in which social media and digital releases have created a virtual firehose of content from artists. Jay Elec’s relatively private demeanor and intense selectivity have only contributed to his mystery and mythology.

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Jay’s label affiliations have been winding during the decade since that first project dropped. After some time with Decon (now Mass Appeal), Jay joined forces with Diddy. Given Puff’s reputation for intense work ethic and molding young MCs into legends, hope heightened that he would shepherd Jay’s album to release. Anticipation only heightened when the two released “The Ghost of Christopher Wallace,” an ode to Biggie that came complete with Puff’s customary ad libs. The partnership did not produce the album, however, and months after the release of his song with Puff Daddy, Electronica linked with another Hip-Hop titan.

November of 2010 brought an announcement that Jay Elec had signed with Jay Z at Roc Nation, and, days later, the two released the high-powered collaboration, “Shiny Suit Theory.” Aptly-titled, the song featured Jay E waxing philosophical about advice he’d gotten from Diddy about seizing the moment. “Me and Puff, we was chilling in Miami. He said: “Nigga fuck the underground you need to win a Grammy for your mama and your family. They need to see you shined up. You built a mighty high ladder. Let me see you climb up. Nigga what you scared of? Terrorize these artificial rap niggas and spread love. Pollenate they ear buds,” he rapped. Despite Puff’s advice and Jay in his corner for 7 years, the album is still ghost…

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While the furor has died down, aside from the occasional song or post that sparks things up again, the Internet was set ablaze this past weekend, when footage leaked of the two Jays at a party in New Orleans, during NBA All-Star weekend. When Jay Elec invited his label head to say a few words, Jay Z very publicly ended his brief comments with “Let’s put this album out.” Seeing that Jay Z himself was as desirous as everyone else to let the project see the light of day offered a glimmer of hope for die hard fans that: 1. an album actually existed and, 2. there was a possibility that it actually might be released.

A day later, however, Jay Elec spoke with Complex and suggested not so fast. When asked how he felt about Jay Z’s desire for the album to be released, Jay E responded “Not just Jay, it’s humbling that after all these years that anybody still has interest in what I’m doing. You can’t name another person that people have waited this long.” After, Jay Elec made it clear that he joins, Jay Z and the legions of fans who want to see his album released, saying “As far as an album, I would like to put out an album myself. Nobody in the world wants a Jay Electronica album out more than I do.” When asked what was stopping him, he said “Nothing’s stopping me. I release music in my own time…When you’re doing music or you’re an artist, paint…whatever you do. You make clothes…whatever you do. Things evolve. Over the trajectory of your life, say you start working on a design or working on something [in] January. By the time next January comes around, you be in another place. You may have to strike this. ‘Oh, I don’t like those patches on that thing…’ You can’t put a stopwatch on that.”

As the world saw last year, with the real-time revisions by Kanye West of his album, The Life Of Pablo, for some artists, their work is never done. By contrast, in recent years, artists like Kendrick Lamar have grown comfortable enough to released incomplete outtakes, as he did with untitled.unmastered, the sessions leftover from To Pimp A Butterfly. For most artists, the “finished” product lies somewhere in between. The question remains as to whether Jay Electronica can ever find this happy medium and, if so, when.