So here we are again: another few months/years has passed and there’s been yet another sighting of the elusive, reclusive Jay Electronica at this year’s SXSW down in good ole’ Austin. I guess by now we have to get used to the fact (if we haven’t already, and who among us hasn’t) that Jay Elec pretty much makes and releases music on his own terms, by his own clock, and abiding by his own rules. And not in the whole “Hashtag New Rules” sense that his boss Jay Z continues to harp on. Or by dropping a surprise album using the power and influence of a rabid, almost disturbingly dedicated fan base of a Beyonce. Or by continuing to bend, shift, shape and challenge the rules of what Hip Hop can be per the influence of a Kanye West. Although in a certain sense, Jay Electronica seems to use elements from ALL of those examples to make his music remain kinda relevant.
The latest song released by surprise by the New Orleans emcee, in conjunction with a few sightings of him this past week in Texas, is “Better In Tune w/The Infinite”. Not one for simple, easily digestible songs where the actual meaning and purpose can be identified right from the jump, Jay instead uses a piano heavy, world-weary piece of classical music-influenced production to lay some of his emotional cards out on the table.
We don’t get much of a sense of what he’s been doing or if he’s been working on an actual album, but in reality, we’re probably not supposed to. “Better In Tune…” seems like it’s just Electronica getting some things off his chest through self expression and emotional lyricism. Truthfully, if you listen closely enough, it’s a song that’s very subtle and somber, but also psychologically mind-blowing. Couple all of these elements with the raspy, longing voice of LaTonya Givens and you’ve got an easy musical recipe for some serious food for thought.
In the end, there’s once again no indication of whether a full-fledged project from Jay is on the way that fans have been longing for. And per usual, those fans probably shouldn’t hold their breath. We should all just be satisfied that Mr. Electronica has been gracious enough to share this beautiful and haunting piece of Hip Hop with us.