Jay Electronica’s “Exhibit C” was a masterpiece, “a magical moment—one he nor any other rapper in the past five years could top,” but it came out in December, 2009. We’re approaching the sixth anniversary of its release and all Jay has given us in the intervening years are some (admittedly pretty great) guest appearances and songs.
Now it’s too late. He waited too long. His album has been the most anticipated debut for over five years now but, after a while, expectations become more than any single project can handle, regardless of how great it may be. By this point, it has been been promised so many times and anticipated so much that it has been built up to mythical status, a Roc Nation version of Detox. And, like Dre’s ultimately scrapped tour de force, the promise of Jay Elec’s album is far better than the reality could ever be.
My suggestion is that he should never release an album.
Why should he?
Some (including himself) already consider him to be one of the best rappers around, a once-in-a-generation talent. Dropping an album that could never reach impossible expectations would only hurt that reputation. (Something I believe André 3000 understands.)
Moreover, the album’s unavailability only continues to build anticipation. Each time Jay releases a song like “Road to Perdition” or pops up on Mac Miller’s album, he manages to tease everyone and the conversation immediately revolves around the contents and release date of the album. If that is paid off, the excitement is quickly over.
Instead, he keeps an air of mystery, a shadowy aura that other artists don’t enjoy. Jay Electronica’s music is classic supply and demand: by making his musical output scarce, he’s made virtually every verse a rarity, every song an event.
Releasing an album will put an end to all of that, regardless of how great he may be.
Christopher Pierznik is the author of eight books, all of which can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, and many more. He has been quoted on Buzzfeed and Deadspin. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.