Jay Electronica
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Jay Electronica

London, England, United Kingdom | MAJOR

London, England, United Kingdom | MAJOR
Band Hip Hop Avant-garde


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The best kept secret in music


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The day is September 19th, 1976, Marilyn Flowers, daughter of Dorothy is taken to Hotel Dieu (The Hostel of God) to give birth to a son. The father is a strange mercurial character, Elpadaro S. Thedford- a legend in these parts. An enigmatic, wandering outsider of Panamanian descent; he never stayed long. The place is the Magnolia Projects, a bitter sweet district of New Orleans where deep hardship and struggle walk hand in hand with the strongest family ties and a fragile but brave laying of community roots for a people only just emerging out of centuries of wilderness.
Among the most deprived areas of North America, The Magnolia Projects stood, riddled with crime, infected with despair and yet woven with hope, courage and most of all God given talent- pure expression of raw ability and love of music seeped from every crack in the baking sidewalks. It was here in this brave new world that Elpadaro F. Electronica
Allah (known to most as Jay or Je’Ri), the only Thedford in a house full of Flowers, would spend his childhood under the care of his Grandmother Dorothy, a Magnolian legend and his mother. With hopes of a different life for her son she immersed him in Bible teachings, classic English, Technicolour films and music unfamiliar for these parts- David Bowie, Billy Joel, Steely Dan were all part of his daily diet and mingling with The Wizard of Oz
and Mary Poppins they enriched his imagination, nurturing and moulding a brilliant mind, intricately diverse with a consciousness far outreaching his surroundings.
Admission into St Augustine’s school for boys took Jay into a new environment, a more rigid routine. He wore a uniform, the only child from his neighbourhood to do so. Again he was different, facing the prospect of a fight every time he headed home. He joined his school marching band, initially as a Colour Guard eventually playing all lower brass instruments, but it was rap that had become his passion. From the age of 10 he was rhyming, practicing, developing and honing his technique, laying the foundations of what was to become one of the most celebrated lyrical abilities of a generation. Described by
giants such as Jay Z and P Diddy as ‘scary good’ and representing ‘real hip hop, which is like an endangered species right now’
However there was a long journey ahead. The death of his best friend, shot at a young age, compelled him to leave New Orleans in pursuit of his dreams, of something better for himself and his family. Aged 19 he boarded the greyhound bus, headed for NYC, armed only with a few clothes and the address of a shelter. He never made it. During a layover in
Atlanta he was met with hundreds of ‘now hiring’ signs, it was the Olympics 1996, he disembarked the bus hoping for work and in doing so began a six-year episode in his life during which he would struggle, fight, suffer, fail, despair, succeed, triumph and ultimately overcome. From the club circuit of Atlanta to a stint in Chicago he lived in many cities, never with a fixed abode, often sleeping rough experiencing the kind of strife and hardship that while many rappers may doth their caps to, few have experienced in such visceral form.
This period in his life saw him explore his developing lyrical craft, an extremely rare context and perspective on life, the universe, and all that lies within it. He became a member of The Nation of Islam, a pivotal moment in which he was forced to face and grapple with questions of race, lost history and the hardships of his people, all of which is reflected in his music. Eventually he headed to Detroit, the city described as the hospital in which Jay Electronica was delivered. Here he found his own voice, and that voice was beginning to be heard. His reborn lyrical style shirked the conventions that fed mainstream radio with a conveyer belt of predictability, and rediscovered the skill and integrity of the forefathers he held true like Rakim, while letting his volatile imagination run wild. Described by a leading hip hop commentator below:
An extraordinary lyricist who’s bars deliver intelligence of evolutionary and universal knowledge, compounded with creative rhythmical ideology in his track production......Jay
Elec has injected profound esoteric connotation into contemporary hip hop.
His cult status was growing, embryonic at first, it blossomed in symbiosis with the internet. He quickly mastered and recognized the importance and potential reach of the web. Myspace was where it all began and he was right there at the beginning, shirking the conventional label deal approach, he connected directly with his ever growing
fanbase, and they couldn’t get enough of the mythical emcee who’s actual existence was sometimes questioned due to his cloak and dagger, underground approach. Most notably he gave them Style Wars EP and shortly followed it with Act 1, The Pledge: Eternal Sunshine comprising 15 minutes of beat-less music and rhymes, anchored by samples from Jon Brion's soundtrack to