This past weekend, rap heads saw the equivalent of a UFO when Jay Electronica dropped a new song (read: verse) called “better in tune w the infinite.” Sounding once more like the Holy Messenger that hip-hop fans had knighted him as, Jay Elect reminded dissenters that almost everyone still gives a shit about this guy, whether or not he’s real.
Don’t believe the hate—people still want to see his return (see the video above). They’re just not itching for it because it’s going on seven years now. But if you’re still waiting patiently, perhaps you haven’t covered every inch of Jay’s discography so far. Make sure you haven’t missed any mysterious gems throughout the years as we walk you through 10 Jay Electronica songs you might have missed.
Are you watching closely?
The New Royales are a band headed by production whiz DJ Khalil, and in 2009 it seemed like they were working on a project with Jay Electronica, as evidenced by this video. Only two songs were ever released, one being “Posers” and the other being “Candy Man.”
“Candy Man” sounds like it rose from a swamp in a Louisiana bayou, and I mean that in the best way possible. The great hoarder of exclusives Benji B played this on the radio, and it’s always struck me as one of the dopest Jay Electronica songs to ever drop.
“Holiday” (Feat. Mos Def)
Many will remember the time Just Blaze did a set on Tony Touch’s Shade 45 show and played exclusive cuts from Jay Electronica, Mos Def, and others (including that ill “Reminder” remix). After Mos’ “Exhibit B” verse, Just cuts to “Holiday,” which features Mos singing and a verse from each rapper. Do remember—people were playing the shit out of those snippets when they dropped.
“Act II” [Rough Version]
Jay dropped this on September 14, 2011, about ten months after the Roc Nation deal was made official. It’s of shoddy quality, yet still retains memorable parts, such as the inexplicably censored advice from Rick Ross and unforgettable lines like, “I was raised by America, had a baby by Erykah /Niggas started expecting the God to dress funny.”
“Run & Hide” (Feat. The Bullitts)
The Bullitts, A.K.A. Jeymes Samuel, released an album last year called They Die By Dawn And Other Short Stories… Three of the first four songs include Jay Electronica verses, but what’s missing was a song released prior to the album, called “Run and Hide.” A short film featuring Lucy Liu was released online and it included this song, which includes hymnal vocals and a vastly disinterested Jay Electronica. The words are powerful but the delivery is beyond drained.
In 2008, FWMJ, an early advocate of Jay, teamed up with the rapper for a 5-track EP that featured three unfinished songs, one of which was “Annakin’s Prayer,” produced by Jay himself. The disjointed beat doesn’t seem to work the first couple times you listen, but it’ll click eventually. Part impressionism, part childhood memories, part Jedi myth.
“Prelude To A Freestyle”
To add to his ever-evolving mystery, Jay seemingly helmed a YouTube account called “tayjesla” in 2010-2011 and uploaded a series of videos, one of which is “Prelude To A Freestyle.” Over Kanye’s “Devil In A New Dress,” Jay sounds like he recorded this verse in a janitor’s closet. The video features footage from “Montmartre in Paris” and also has a scrolling band of info on the bottom that contains either clues or totally useless information.
“Million In The Morning”
Jason Goldwatch is a fantastic director who co-founded Decon Records and in 2010 filmed a documentary about a guy trying to break the world record for most consecutive hours without sleep. Goldwatch and Jay Elect are pals (see top video), so Jay slipped him an exclusive that was inspired by the movie. Hallucinations ensue as reality and unconsciousness seem to blend before Jay’s very eyes.
“San Pellegrino With Lemon (A Prayer for Michael Vick & T.I.)”
Part of Jay’s appeal was you didn’t always know what the fuck he was talking about. What does “San Pellegrino With Lemon” have to do with Michael Vick and T.I.?
One thing that’s totally idiosyncratic about Jay’s songs are the (often extended) snippets of speeches and monologues by powerful black figures like Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, Elijah Muhammad, and others. These aren’t your run of the mill, fake-deep movie quotations that rappers love to sprinkle throughout their Frisbee mixtapes, either. These speeches provide context, something the Internet desperately needs as access to information increases by the minute.
This was released while both T.I. and Vick were in prison, and the intro seems to find Farrakhan speaking against integration. Nation of Islam members didn’t seek to involve themselves in American politics, and Farrakhan succinctly lays that out in a message about self-policing. It stands to reason that Jay included the snippet as an indictment of T.I. and Vick’s imprisonment, though he barely mentions jail in the two following verses.
“Patents of Nobility”
Another sketch of a song that sounds like it was recorded in Oscar the Grouch’s garbage can, “Patents of Nobility” is named after the supposed subtitle of Act II. The phrase refers to papers that prove one is an aristocrat, and over Allen Toussaint horns, Jay drops Christ imagery, “making water out of whiskey” all the while.
This is one of Jay’s most piercing verses to ever be released, as he poses a question directly to the listener in the very first line. He goes on to discuss jealousy and the possibility of being brainwashed, but the whole time you get the sense that he’s some sort of mystic yogi, imparting valuable lessons that you need to understand before he withdraws back into the high mists of the mountains.