Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Random Thoughts #6: King Jay of Leontronica

If you're a regular around here, you know I'm a bit obsessed with the instant Hip-Hop cultural phenomenon that is Jay Electronica.  Not so much the songs themselves (dope as they may be), but people's response to them.  The internet's reaction.  Radio's reaction.  Bloggers' reactions.  Other rappers' reactions.
Anyway...a few weeks ago I said to someone (or posted it as a Facebook status, who knows) that "Jay Electronica is the Animal Collective of Hip-Hop".  What I meant was, much like the connection AnCo has to the indie/alternative scene, Jay Electronica seems to have been crowned as the next, best and brightest among what's new in Hip-Hop.  But to me, the question remained...how much do/did people ACTUALLY like either artist.  Clearly their work is well above average and worthy of...fan-ship...but are they really as great as they've been made out to be?  Much more importantly, does anyone REALLY think they are?  Do we genuinely adore the music, or have we been caught in a storm that requires anyone with an opinion to stand in favor of AnCo and Jay Elec.  I don't know.

But a funny thing has happened in the last few weeks.  Jay Electronica is starting to get spins on mainstream radio (at least in NY, anyway).  He's made a shift.  His status has gone from "Animal Collective" and he's on his way to becoming "Kings of Leon".  What do I mean?  I mean he's authentic enough for underground heads, AND comfortably familiar enough for corporate radio.  It's fascinating.  Blasting off Jay Elec jams on drive-time radio has become a badge of honor for mainstream DJs.  Like some sort of inverse street cred.  DJ are screaming shit like "it's the return of that real Hip-Hop!!", totally ignorinng the fact that they just played 12 Young Money/Drake/Wayne songs in the last 3hrs.  Exhibit C has become a both a coping mechanism for real Hip-Hop DJs who spin bullshit to pay the bills (Enuff, Cipha Sounds) and has given faux-credibility to commercial DJs pretending to give a shit about the music (DJ Clue and damn near anyone else on the radio before midnight).

Regardless of how good Jay Electronica is or isn't, the fact that his music has led to genuine macroscopic evaluations of the culture is a blessing, and I applaud him (and Just Blaze) for what they're building.

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