Jay Electronica – Putting The Brimstone Back In Conscious Rap

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)