How long is too long to wait for an album? For Jay Electronica it's a decade. Over 10 years have passed since artist Jay Electronica blew on to the scene and signed with hip-hop billionaire Jay-z and his record label Rocnation. In the meantime fellow artists like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and label mate
J. Cole are well into their 5th studio albums as well as having dropped numerous mixtapes and a collaboration project that had the whole world saying "What A Time To Be Alive". But clout has never been Jay Electronica's thing, and not even the beef that cooked up from Kendrick's "Control" verse was enough to bring this devout member of Nation of Islam to the dinner table. He had his own dish he was cooking up and he would not be rushed by the numerous microwave projects that had been dropped since he first came on to the scene. But from the opening track of his new album "A Written Testimony" Jay Electronica uses a speech from The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan to let it be known that he's the chosen one and that this is his time.
Track 2. Track 2 is when something magical happens. The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan yells to his people, "So, all you scared to death negros. Just sit down. Don't you come out to defend our enemy. You sit down and you shut up. And tell your master to come on out and deal with this." How can you top this? This one part was enough satisfaction that the track didn't need to continue. But then a voice comes over the speakers that starts rapping with such an imposing presence, so imposing and prominent is this voice that you realize the person rapping could only be the one. HOV. "Next time they bring up the Gods, you gon' respect us, That lil' vest ain't gonna do you, I shoot from neck up." Bar after bar Jay-Z spits leaves you with so many puzzles to decode as his knack to drop double entrendre's and quadruple entendre's for years have left listeners up late at night with decoder rings rushing to be the first to crack his coded bars. People are still trying to decode his debut album "Reasonable Doubt". But also as you jump forward to track 3, track 4, track 5, etc, you realize that Jay-Z is more than a featured artist on this album. He's one of the artists. This album becomes more of a collaboration album like his and Kanye West's "Watch The Throne" that dropped in 2011, though the tracklist doesn't credit him on any track. For the Jay-Z lovers this was an unexpected gift. For the rest of the industry it was not fair and not something they expected. THIS IS A HELL OF A CHEAT CODE!" Even Jay Electronica had to acknowledge the anomaly of having Jay-Z appear on his debut album.
With an intro from The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and features from Jay-Z, compound on to that a wait that was as anticipated as Dr. Dre's Detox, and you'll see why Jay Electronica had some huge expectations to live up to. For many years people wondered if the RocNation artist would ever deliver an album as he dropped feature after feature which seemed to tease his fans as to the potential for his album to shift the culture a moments notice. But it's no doubt he delivered with A Written Testimony. Lines like, "Weave the whole industry, every jab I've parried it, My cross I carried it." are examples of how Jay Electronica's acknowledges his long journey to this debut album. And at the same time proves it was worth the wait. Even his peers have recently taken to social media to post some of his most quotable lines from the album.
Meek Mill even posted a bar from the album.
As you get deeper into the album a pattern starts to develop that is similar to that of Watch The Throne. Although 2 songs short of it's predecessor, the 10 track album often sees Jay-Z and Jay Electronica tagging in on each track, To compare the 2 lyrically Jay Electronica's A Written Testimony gets the crown that will be unpacked by Hip-Hop lyrical enthusiasts for years to come. But the one thing Watch the Throne does have over A Written Testimony is a hit. Nothing on the album can compare to "Niggas in Paris". It's just too big of a song to compete with, Jay-Z and Kanye West literally performed the song 7 times in a row in Paris. Although there may not be a club banger on Jay Electronica's album it does have some standout tracks, for example Flux Capacitor, which is like an old school call out track that takes you back to those old school Hip-Hop parties that helped birth the genre. Also as you examine each album closer it's undeniable their similarities, take for intense track "The Blinding", it follows a similar format as "Otis" from Watch The Throne as both Jay Electronica and Jay-Z go back and forth on the same verse over a soulful sample. If that ain't Watch The Throne then I don't know what is.
Whether you call Jay Electronica's album his first solo album or a collaboration album that is undoubtedly Watch The Throne 2, know that it's an over delivery on the expectation for a debut album. Few artists can get HOV on a track which is also the ultimate cheat code by the fact that he's on damn near the whole album. But what's most noticeable about the album is Jay Electronica's ability to stay pace with the lyrical sprints that Jay-Z so masterfully is known for. At times it's like the two are in a relay race passing the baton as they spit some of the dopest bars around each track. This is truly a victory for Jay Electronica's fans that can now relax knowing that the decade wait is over. But then again the question that is on everyone's minds now is will they have to wait another 10 years for the New Orleans native to drop another project. Only time will tell.