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Jay Electronica – My Gigging Year

December 30, 2010

Jay Electronica

I heard the amazing track ‘Exhibit C’ while researching a tv recommendation (The Boondocks). I was meant to be paying attention to this supposedly clever anime about black people living in a posh white neighbourhood (I still don’t know what to think of it to be honest) but my attention was completely grabbed by the music someone had put over the top of this Youtube compilation. I searched for a while to find the song, and when I eventually did, I played that song to death for the next fortnight. I blabbed about it to anyone who would listen. I’m doing it again – the rapping in this song is possibly the best I have ever heard.

I tried to find out more about him, but didn’t get very far. Apparantly he likes to keep things underground, so I was left wanting more. I got wind quite ealry on that he had a gig in Brighton and snapped up the tickets like an eager beaver, thinking haha! you won’t sell out on me this time. As it turned out, I shouldn’t have been so worried – even though the hype among hip-hop purists at the time was that this guy is the next big thing, the turnout was terrible. The venue was medium sized but the crowd he pulled in couldn’t have been much more than 200. I really thought I had come to the wrong venue or something. Anyway, as I had only heard a handful of his songs, his material was very new to me (apart from Exhibit C of course, to which I knew most of the words) which made the gig an interesting one to review. The guy could obviously rap, his flow being his number one selling point, and apart from his lateness had a very likable demeanour about him (after his set he walked among the crowd to talk to everyone, he was very humble, I even got  a lovely photo with him). Unfortunately, he suffered very badly from a terrible sound engineer and a sub-standard DJ. The beats didn’t stand out at all, and I was thankful that in a lot of his songs he would have long acapella sections where I could tune out the quite frankly amateurish backing tracks and listen to his rapping, and whenever I could make out what he was saying he genuinely seemed to have something to say about the world – not the same old tired bullshit that you no doubt associate all rap acts with.

All in all it was an average gig despite Jay’s best efforts – the small crowd made up for it’s lack of size with a huge amount of energy and love (in fact it was probably the best crowd I saw all year), and they all seemed to know his songs a lot better than I did, but in the end the short set length, average beats and bad sound quality from the front of house system let him down. Hopefully next time he performs on these shores he will have better people around him.

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