The tendency with 'conscious' rap music is to just wince it off. Isn't rap meant to be fun, glamourus and sensational, not winey, pseudo-intellectual and sanctimonious? Course there's been great independent hip hop that's smart and thought-provoking, but there's something about when you hear that conscious tag that makes you instantaneously hanker for 'tricked-out whips' and semi-automatic weapons.
But as New Orleans' Jay Electronica's reminding us, making philosophical rap needn't be all falafel-ridden slam poetry and A-level politics lessons. After studying extensively from the holy book of 'Illmatic', Jay's been establishing a new era of fearsome hip hop with soul and brains.
Jay Electronica 'Exhibit C' live at the Jazz Cafe, London 18/2/10.
After an extended tenure of unconventional releases and collaborations -including a rapscape pieced together from snippets of the film 'Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind'- he's risen as arguably the most sought-after underground rapper on the planet, after Gucci Mane, perhaps. After many -including his missus Erykah Badu- had speculated that he may never release a normal album, he looks set to prove them wrong, with an upcoming long-player on the Decon label.
We did a shoot with him for next week's lead Radar feature in the mag (out next Wednesday!). Here's an insight into the glamorous world of hip hop photography. Jay was a bit confused about his and the photographer's respective roles at the shoot.
After the shoot he talked to us about his lovely pendant.
Here's a download of his unofficial mixtape, 'Victory' mixed by DJ Dub and Furious Styles ('Exhibit C' is track 21)