Jay Electronica 'Act II The Patents of Nobility' Review - SolidRumor.com

Jay Electronica ‘Act II The Patents of Nobility’ Review

 Jay Electronica 'Act II The Patents of Nobility' Review

On 2009’s “Exhibit C,” his breakthrough and still biggest hit, Jay Electronica writes his young adulthood as a parable––that of a drunk, depressed wanderer who “shines like [he] grew up in a shrine in Peru,” but who sleeps on trains, starving, mad at Okayplayer headlines. The New Orleans-born rapper claimed to be of the spiritual plane, but also turned out to be of this world: After dating the heiress Kate Rothschild, he spent more time in the British tabloids than the studio in the next decade, delaying a much-anticipated debut album to the point where everyone gave up on him, only to finally reappear with a very good Jay Z-assisted album, A Written Testimony, earlier this year.

But earlier this week, that long-lost debut, Act II: The Patents of Nobility (The Turn) finally leaked online after a group of internet users raised about $9,000 to buy and release it, after it had apparently been lifted by hackers. (In Discord chats, Jay’s representatives first said they would seek legal action to block the release, but on Twitter the artist was gracious about the album’s reception, and later uploaded it to Tidal.) This is the album that Jay had originally slated for Christmas 2009; the version that appeared over the weekend has the same tracklist as was announced in 2012. Its title comes from Michael Caine’s opening monologue in The Prestige.

Earlier this year on Testimony, Jay knowingly addressed his decade-long absence, rapping about the pressure he felt to deliver on his considerable promise (“Hov hit me up, like, ‘What, you scared of heights?’”). In his music through about 2010, Jay’s dual existence between the metaphysical and the unnervingly modern seemed to give him an energy and clarity of purpose. But Act II, his would-be magnum opus recorded nearly a decade ago, often takes self-doubt and depression as its subject, in stark opposition to those more assured early songs.

For years, Act II was whispered about as an inevitable classic, the culmination of a run that included some of the century’s strangest, most inventive rap music. It is not quite that. Despite the delay, Act II is unmixed and includes some demoed vocals, suggesting an album that was abandoned and never quite finished, rather than one that is still unfinished. In places it is probing. It’s also thin: there are long stretches with no rapping at all, and––this is possibly a side effect of being unmixed and unmastered––songs like “Letter to Falon” and “Real Love” are left feeling like experiments in style rather than part of a coherent whole.

From its languid opening, Act II is weighed down by a leaden sadness, preoccupied with the way modern life has interrupted our communion with the natural world. There is a tremendous moment in the opening verse of “Real Magic,” when Jay’s delivery of the line “It’s a genuine miracle that I got up today” plays as both a bleak read on his psychological state and as sincere awe at the wonder of life. (A stock clip of children cheering, always a staple of Jay’s music, is given new resonance here––something so organic, triggered over and over in perfect duplicate by a sampler.) The previously released “Better in Tune With the Infinite,” one of the strongest songs here, is also the bleakest. The words are resolute, but Jay’s performance is appropriately pained:

“They might defeat the flesh but they could never, ever kill me

They might can feel the music but could never, ever feel me

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