Jay Electronica - A Written Testimony
Mar 13, 2020
84
My sincere hope is that as the years go by, Jay Electronica's grand studio album debut will be regarded as a commendable moment in modern hip hop. What I believe such a great album from a skilled rapper represents, ultimately, is that age does not determine your place in rap. In a culture widely dominated by a young generation of aspiring acts, Jay Electronica proved, at the age of 43, that he has the full capability of putting together an innovative, abundant, thoughtful piece of work. And he did it all with the same confidence as a young MC in his early 20s.

It's nearly impossible to believe that a rapper with so much to say and present to the table in terms of lyrical content and creative style would limit their musical output so greatly over the course of 25 years active in the hip hop scene. But Jay Electronica is not so much an ordinary rapper, more of a mysterious, ambiguous figure. His style and artistic process is rather erratic and indefinite, as reflected by some of his past works (Act 1: Eternal Sunshine EP), which revels in abstract, lo-fi experimentation, uncontrolled presentation.

Often, with so many ideas lurking in one's mind and the pressure of having to follow up a successful mixtape, it can be hard to feel inspired, let alone come forth with a complete, long-awaited full studio album with a definite concept. But when the rush of inspiration finally came, Jay Electronica took full advantage of it, churning out a set of dense, uniquely constructed, conceptually innate tracks in a span of 40 days, highlighting themes of Islam and religion that pay tribute to the man behind the stage name. Though pristine and cleaned up in sound, the fascinating, unparalleled abstract arrangements that we've come to expect is very much still present in commanding form. "A Written Testimony" may be interpreted as a collaborative project with Jay-Z, one that gradually loses some color towards the end, yet in execution, it is no less a true Jay Electronica album, refreshing as it is enigmatic, thoughtful as it is artistically unrestrained, epic as it is intimate, raw as it is stunning, old-school as it is new-school (reminds me very greatly of sLUms).

Perhaps with Jay Electronica finally coming through with some refreshing music, it can inspire many others in Jay's generation to consider the same. Who knows, maybe one day, we'll get that André 3000 debut album after all.

FAV TRACKS: Ghost of Soulja Slim, The Blinding, The Neverending Story, Flux Capacitor, Ezekiel's Wheel, Universal Soldier

LEAST FAV TRACK: A.P.I.D.T.A.
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