|Origin||Rayners Lane, London, England|
|Years active||2007–2017, 2017–present|
Jai Paul is an English songwriter, record producer and recording artist from Rayners Lane in Greater London, England. He is signed to XL Recordings. His songs "BTSTU" and "Jasmine" have been influential on underground as well as mainstream pop music in the 2010s. After the release of these two singles, Paul did not release any new music for seven years, though a collection of his music was leaked in 2013. During this hiatus, Paul formed a music collective with his brother, A. K. Paul. Paul returned from his hiatus in 2019 with the official release of his previously leaked demo album, entitled Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones) and a new double single.
2007–2013: "BTSTU" and "Jasmine"
Paul's 2007 demo recording "BTSTU", hosted at his MySpace page, received widespread music blog coverage throughout 2010, resulting in UK national radio play. International music press followed blog coverage of the track (with some publications shortening the song's title to "BTSU"). The song caught the attention of several record companies and a bidding war ensued, with Paul eventually signing with XL Recordings later that year. By December 2010, the BBC had long-listed Paul for their Sound of 2011 poll, asserting his style as "a startlingly fresh vision of 21st century pop music".
On 21 April 2011, XL Recordings officially released Paul's the reworked "BTSTU (Edit)" to acclaim, with the BBC's Zane Lowe commenting that "Jai (pronounced Jay) Paul is part Dilla / part D'Angelo but also full of individuality. An exciting prospect on the horizon." On 20 May 2011, Canadian hip-hop artist Drake "officially leaked" a track titled "Dreams Money Can Buy" via his blog, October's Very Own. Shortly afterward, "End of Time", a song by American R&B artist Beyoncé, surfaced online. Both tracks feature a sample of Paul's "BTSTU".
On 30 March 2012, Paul uploaded a new demo titled "Jasmine (demo)" to his official SoundCloud page, subsequently receiving an official release via XL on 9 April 2012. "Jasmine (demo)" received positive reviews, with Pitchfork featuring the song as a "Best New Track", The New York Times praising its "Prince era sensuality" and The Guardian describing the production as "amazing".
Later in 2012, Paul appeared as a guest on the deluxe version of Big Boi's 2012 album Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, having produced the track "Higher Res". Paul was also featured on the track alongside Big Boi and Little Dragon.
2013–2016: Leaked material, hiatus from music
On 14 April 2013 an unknown user uploaded a number of untitled tracks to Bandcamp, a music streaming and purchasing service that caters mainly for independent artists (artists without a record label). These untitled tracks were made available for sale as an album. Bandcamp is known for being vulnerable to scams and copyright infringement, with Consequence of Sound reporting in a feature that "Its response time to infractions is slow, and its built-in protections against scams appear minimal." However, hours after the page's appearance, music press picked up on it and publicised it extensively, reporting the music as belonging to Paul and describing it as constituting his debut album, as well as including links to download the material in articles. Paul and his record label denied having released the recordings, or authorising their release.
Myers however also reported the music as having come from a personal laptop stolen from Paul himself, citing a comment made by Twitter user "@FatAmpNadia" as his source. Major music press followed Myers' lead, and the stolen laptop story was universally reported. It is unclear how "@FatAmpNadia" is involved.
Many journalists and commenters suggested the leak to be a cynically devised marketing plan on Paul and XL Recordings’ behalf; having achieved the desired result, the two parties made false statements to the public ‘explaining away’ the events. Others conjectured that Paul did in fact upload the tracks himself, in an attempt to illegally leak and sell his music independently from record label XL Recordings and publisher BMG, seeing parallels with distinct situations involving unrelated artists. Duncan Cooper of The Fader concludes that "In any case, the album's origins and officialness (sic) seem like something of a technicality", adding the opinion that "Jai Paul seems to be getting paid for it", despite the record company's claims otherwise.
Many publications opted to review the leaked material as an "album" with Gigwise commenting "there are moments that sound distinctly unfinished. There are periods of silence at the end of most tracks, there're only a few smooth segues between the skits and the tracks, and there are periods where the mixing of the vocal track sounds downright bad. The whole album doesn't feel as precisely balanced as you would expect from Jai Paul."
Despite being an unofficial release, the "album" was ranked in year-end lists, at number 32 in the music blog Pretty Much Amazing's "40 Best Albums of 2013", number 28 in The Guardian's "Best Albums of 2013", and number 20 in Pitchfork's "Top 50 Albums of 2013". More recently, the leak was recognised in "The 100 Best Albums of the Decade So Far", a list published by Pitchfork in August 2014.
2016–2019: Paul Institute
In March 2016, Jai and his brother A. K. Paul announced a new project titled Paul Institute. The project was inaugurated with the release of A.K. Paul's debut single as a solo artist, "Landcruisin'". The song, having been debuted on Zane Lowe's Beats 1 radio show, was available initially only to Paul Institute members who signed up via the Institute's website and SMS messages. Digital and physical copies of the record were purchasable via the site.
In November 2017, Jai was pictured for the first time since 2013 in Property Week, in which himself and A. K. Paul had signed a lease in London's White City Place for a space for the Paul Institute. Later that month, Paul Institute released two new singles; "Mystery", by Fabiana Palladino, with production credits to Jai Paul, and "Evil", by Ruthven, with production credits to A. K. Paul.
On 25 July 2018, The Institute released two new singles: the track "Shimmer" by Fabiana Palladino featuring Jai Paul on production, engineering, instrumental and mixing duties; and "Hypothalamus", Ruthven's second release on the Paul Institute imprint, featuring A. K. Paul on guitar, production, writing and mixing.
2019–present: Return from hiatus and release of leaked material
In 2019, the leak was made official and digitally available as Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones) to his website and streaming services. The download included a long letter by Paul where he writes about how the music probably got leaked: "I don't really know. I believe these particular versions of tracks may have come from a burned CD that got misplaced - a fair amount of people would have had access to my music in various forms between 2010 and 2013." In the same letter, Paul also addresses the speculation about leaking the music himself: 'I was also frustrated by how all this was being framed online, leading to the widespread belief that I had decided to leak my own music, despite my record label and I saying otherwise. It didn't fit at all with anything I had done previously in style or attitude, and especially not in presentation."
He also released two new singles, "He" and "Do You Love Her Now", as a double b-side to the Bait Ones album. This marked Paul's return from a hiatus of more than seven years after the release of his last single, "Jasmine". Paul provided miscellaneous production to the Childish Gambino's track "Time" featuring Ariana Grande on the album 3.15.20, released in March 2020.
Relationship with media and industry
Music media has speculated about Paul's background, motivation and intent as he has remained out of the public eye, and his professional music career has not followed convention thus far. English publication Clash noted Paul's distinctiveness early on, saying in 2011: "Hype is a fascinating commodity. Where some quickly melt down the attention for liquid purpose, promising talent Jai Paul removed all his music from MySpace and went to get his shit together". XL Recordings founder and owner Richard Russell accepts Paul's idiosyncratic style, saying: "Jai is a wizard... the way he's going about things is, I think for many, baffling. He's going about things in the most Jai Paul way you could possibly go about things. And who knows where that may lead."
Guardian writer Michael Cragg, having met Paul in 2011, observes that Paul's enigma "seems genuinely uncontrived – Jai just doesn't seem into the idea of rushing or teasing new material if it isn't ready." In a separate piece for i-D, Cragg goes on to say: "there was something incredibly charming about his confusion as to why anyone would want to talk to him. Weirdly, he was under the impression he could just release music for people to enjoy and that would be that." Pitchfork's Lindsay Zoladz suggests that Paul may be "perhaps more burdened by his talent than inclined to show it off." Meanwhile, Quietus blogger Alex Macpherson disagrees, presuming the opposite; saying Paul's "career to date [consists] of little more than a couple of shonky demos and a carefully cultivated aura of mystique" in a scathing article titled "Jai Paul: A Scam To Feed The Internet Sausage Machine".
More recently, Rolling Stone magazine asked singer Nao (who has collaborated with A. K. Paul) whether the Paul brothers' image was intentionally "mysterious". She answered in the negative, saying: "They're not tapped into the industry in that way and I don't know if they give a shit." She added: "They're normal guys that are trying to find their own route without playing the game."
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"BTSTU" (edit)||2011||139||Leak 04-13 (Bait Ones)|
|"Do You Love Her Now"||2019||—||Non-album single|
|"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
|"Higher Res"||2012||Big Boi, Little Dragon||Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors|
Songwriting and production credits
|"Magic"||2008||ProDot||No Face Just Music||Production|
|"Dreams Money Can Buy"||2011||Drake||Care Package||Songwriting|
|"End of Time"||Beyoncé||4||Uncredited songwriting|
|"Higher Res"||2012||Big Boi, Little Dragon||Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors||Songwriting/Production|
|"Shimmer"||2018||Fabiana Palladino||N/A||Additional production|
|"Time"||2020||Childish Gambino, Ariana Grande||3.15.20||Miscellaneous production|
|"Waiting"||2020||Fabiana Palladino||Paul Institute - Summer 2020||Mixing, Additional production|
- New Signing – Jai Paul Archived 19 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Chrysalis Music News. Retrieved 18 December 2010.
- "How Jai Paul changed the sound of pop with just two songs". Dazed. 12 September 2017.
- Bassil, Ryan; Jones, Daisy (19 November 2018). "How Jai Paul's Influence Has Spread Beyond Simple Rip-Offs". Noisey.
- Bloom, Madison (1 June 2019). "Jai Paul Returns With 2 New Songs, Officially Drops 2013 Leaked Album: Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
- "Jai Paul, "BTSU" MP3". The FADER. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- "Jai Paul - BTSU". HYPEBEAST. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- Lester, Paul (10 May 2010). "Jai Paul (No 782)". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- "Jai Paul | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- "BBC - Sound of 2011 - Jai Paul". Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- "BTSTU (Edit) - Single by Jai Paul on Apple Music". iTunes. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- Cragg, Michael (22 April 2011). "New music: Jai Paul – BTSTU". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- Lowe, Zane. "BBC - Zane Lowe's Hottest Records blog: Hottest Record - Jai Paul - BTSTU". Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- Blanco, Alvin (20 May 2011). "Drake Leaks First Song From Take Care". MTV News. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- Frank, Alex (23 May 2011). "Beyonce 'Till the End of Time' MP3". The Fader. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- "MissInfo.tv » Drake Debuts "Dreams Money Can Buy" Off His Upcoming Take Care Album (Updated)". Missinfo.tv. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- Fitzmaurice, Larry (30 March 2012). "'Jasmine' Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- "Jasmine (Demo) – Single by Jai Paul on Apple Music". iTunes. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- Cragg, Michael (2 April 2012). "New music: Jai Paul – Jasmine (demo)". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- "Big Boi - Vicious Lies And Dangerous Rumors". Discogs. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- Geffen, Sasha (28 October 2015). "The Brief and Bizarre Life of the Fake Amazon Bandcamp Page". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- Baggs, Michael. "Listen: Jai Paul releases long-awaited debut album | Gigwise". gigwise.com. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- Cooper, Duncan (13 April 2013). "Download Jai Paul's Self-Titled Debut LP". The Fader. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- Paul, Jai (15 April 2013). "To confirm: demos on bandcamp were not uploaded by me, this is not my debut album. Please don't buy. Statement to follow later. Thanks, Jai". @jai_paul. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- Zoladz, Lindsay (19 April 201). "Maximum Distortion: The Peculiar Case of Jai Paul | Pitchfork". pitchfork.com. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- Myers, Owen (15 April 2013). "Jai Paul had his laptop stolen, there will be a statement at 3pm according to @FatAmpNadia". @owen_myers. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- "Jai Paul's album leaked from stolen laptop". Consequence of Sound. 15 April 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- "Feature: How I 'Found' 'Jai Paul' And What We Know Now". Crack in the Road. 14 April 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
- "Gigwise". gigwise.com. Retrieved 7 August 2017.[permanent dead link]
- "PMA's 40 Best Albums of 2013". Pretty Much Amazing. 18 October 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- "Best albums of 2013: 30–21". The Guardian. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
- "Pitchfork – The Top 50 Albums of 2013". Pitchfork. 18 December 2013. Retrieved 18 December 2013.
- "The 100 Best Albums of the Decade So Far (2010-2014)". Pitchfork. 19 August 2014. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
- Gordon, Jeremy (21 March 2016). "Jai Paul and Brother A.K. Paul Launch New Project Paul Institute". Pitchfork. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
- "A.K. Paul reveals first Paul Institute release: 'Landcruisin". FACT Magazine. 24 March 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
- "A.K. Paul Shares "Landcruisin'"". The Fader. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- Phillips, Amy (24 March 2016). "Jai Paul's Brother A.K. Paul Releases 'Landcruisin". Pitchfork. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
- Parsley, David (15 November 2017). "Paul Institute finds home at White City Place". Property Week. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
- Sherburne, Philip (17 November 2017). ""Mystery"/"Evil" by Fabiana Palladino / Ruthven Review". Pitchfork. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
- "Jai-Paul.com". Retrieved 4 June 2019.
- Rowan5215 (30 March 2020). "Review: Childish Gambino - 03.15.20". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 3 April 2020.
- "Electronic Talents #5: Jai Paul". Clash Music. 26 May 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
- Ganz, Jacob (8 June 2012). "New Music: A Record Label With The Midas Touch". NPR. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
- Cragg, Michael (2 April 2012). "New music: Jai Paul – Jasmine (demo)". The Guardian.
- Cragg, Michael (21 November 2016). "why staying silent is fast becoming the secret to superstardom". i-d.vice.com.
- Macpherson, Alex (19 April 2013). "Jai Paul: A Scam To Feed The Internet Sausage Machine". thequietus.com.
- Beta, Andy (29 July 2016). "Meet Nao, Avant-R&B Star Moving From Back-Up Singer Shadows". Rolling Stone.
- "CHART: CLUK Update 28.05.2011 (wk20)". zobbel.de. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
- "Stream 'Higher Res', Big Boi's much-anticipated collaboration with Jai Paul and Little Dragon". Fact. 10 December 2012. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
- "No Face Just Music by Pro Dot – Album – Listen for Free on MySpace". 1 January 2008. Archived from the original on 17 April 2020. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
- Bassil, Ryan (19 November 2018). "How Jai Paul's Influence Has Spread Beyond Simple Rip-Offs". Vice.com. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
- Jazz Monroe (25 July 2018). "Jai Paul and A. K. Release New Fabiana Palladino and Ruthven Songs: Listen". Pitchfork. Retrieved 25 March 2020.