Jay Electronica is something of a mythical figure in hip hop. His body of work is built on a foundation of mystical spirituality, but he does not shy away from the aggressive one-upmanship that the genre is primarily known for. Balancing wit, a depth of consciousness and grittiness is no easy feat, but historically, Jay Electronica has been able to deftly skate this line. His flow is reminiscent of Common, Blackthought and Nas, but has a cadence and tone all its own.
Though technically his debut album, A Written Testimony understandably feels more like a self-assured, if somewhat of a safe 4th or 5th offering. It lacks the immediate resonance of 2007s Act 1: Eternal Sunshine, or the classic head-nodding appeal of Exhibit C, and the production is somewhat jarring in places, but it is a solid release. It may have been better as a collaboration with JAY-Z, a la Watch the Throne, and on the record it is unclear whether Electronica recruited Hov to ride shotgun, or if JAY-Z wanted to flex his spiritual muscle. It may not be the best first foray into Jay Electronica’s critically acclaimed catalogue, but as Prodigy rapped on their 2011 collab, “Call of Duty,” it’s about “respect, power, (and) money in that order.”
Check out the livestream of A Written Testimony for yourself and you be the judge. Meanwhile, in other music news, be sure to check out Smokepurpp’s new Coronavirus diss track.