Jay Electronica

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Jay Electronica
Jay Electronica.jpg
Jay Electronica in 2010.
Background information
Birth name Timothy Elpadaro Thedford
Born (1976-09-19) September 19, 1976 (age 39)[1]
New Orleans, Louisiana, US
Origin Magnolia Projects, New Orleans, Louisiana, US
Genres Hip hop
Occupation(s) Rapper, record producer
Instruments Vocals
Years active 2004 – present
Labels The Dogon Society, Roc Nation
Associated acts JAY Z, Puff Daddy, J Dilla, Just Blaze, Mos Def, Erykah Badu, The Bullitts, Nas

Timothy Elpadaro Thedford (born September 19, 1976), better known by his stage name Jay Electronica, is an American hip hop recording artist and record producer from New Orleans. Electronica first gained significant attention after the release of the musical composition Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge), which was made available on a MySpace page in 2007. It is fifteen continuous minutes of music, without drums, built from Jon Brion's soundtrack to the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In late 2009 he released two singles, both produced by Just Blaze, "Exhibit A" and "Exhibit C", the latter of which won a Sucker Free Summit Award for Instant Classic. In November 2010, it was announced Jay Electronica had signed to hip hop mogul Jay-Z's Roc Nation record label.[2]


1976–2006: Early life and career beginnings[edit]

Thedford was born on September 19, 1976, in the Magnolia Projects of New Orleans, renowned for having some of the highest crime rates in the country before being flooded during Hurricane Katrina. Thedford began rapping after hearing his uncle rhyme. By the age of 19 Jay Electronica left New Orleans to pursue his musical career. Living a mostly nomadic lifestyle, he found refuge in cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, Detroit, New York, and briefly in Atlanta. From club to club, and stage to stage, Electronica had gotten booed off and denied because of his Southern accent and slang. "In my earlier years from when I first left home, I was embarrassed from being from the South," Thedford stated. "Not in general, but as a rapper because all of the negative things that people in the States put on the South."[3] Electronica’s career really took off in the city of Detroit when he linked up with Detroit native Johnnie Last. In Detroit, Electronica met producer/engineer Mike "Chav" Chavarria, now a regular collaborator, who introduced him to both J. Dilla and Mr. Porter.[4][5] It is here that he recorded his Style Wars-era music with several J. Dilla beats, meeting the producer subsequently to ask for permission to use the recordings as a demo.

2007–2010: Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge); Roc Nation signing[edit]

Jay Electronica first gained significant attention through Act 1: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge), made available on a MySpace page in 2007. It is fifteen continuous minutes of music, without drums, built from Jon Brion's soundtrack to the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. There are five segments or movements marked by changes in music and mood, raps by Electronica, and occasional snippets of sampled dialogue including scenes from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The first segment is a spoken word piece by Just Blaze and Erykah Badu describing Electronica over piano music.

The nature of the piece of music, along with the nature of its appearance, led to a slow build-up of interest in Electronica as an enigmatic figure. Songs circulating online as the Style Wars EP gained wider circulation, and other songs, such as the dream-inspired "Dimethyltryptamine", soon appeared. In January 2008, Giles Peterson's 90-minute Gilles Peterson Worldwide was devoted to the rapper.[6] Hiphopdx.com in 2008 called him "arguably...the most talked about new emcee last year ... at times...more like a myth or urban legend than an actual rapper",[7] and URB ran a cover story on the artist under the banner "Jay Electronica: A Spotless Mind :: An MC’s mystery revealed", which referred to his wanderings as his being "like some sort of hip-hop Jack Kerouac".[4]

Jeff Weiss' piece for the L.A. Weekly, "Jay Electronica: Much Better Than His Name Would Suggest", acknowledged that the rapper could be fairly described as "one of the most buzzed about rappers of 2008", but attempted to temper the hype somewhat, describing Act 1... as "ambitious, wildly original, if not slightly pretentious", while endorsing only to an extent the comparisons URB had made (referencing an "abstract rhyming style") to rappers like Nas and Pharoahe Monch.[8][9]

2010–present: Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn)[edit]

Jay Electronica has yet to release a full-length album, but he has released two official singles to date, "Exhibit A" and "Exhibit C", which won a Sucker Free Summit Award for Instant Classic. His music so far has been made available through the internet, either through being leaked to what URB magazine describes as "obscure web forums", or through an appearing and disappearing Myspace page (currently two seem to be in existence, at /jayelect and at /jayelectronica). Erykah Badu has questioned whether he ever will release, in her words, "actual albums".[4]

According to URB, Act II: Patents of Nobility will feature Nas, and will be the second of a putative trilogy. URB also reported that digital EPs with both Guilty Simpson and producer 9th Wonder were planned. According to a Filter TV interview,[10] Jay Electronica has partnered with Decon to release his debut project. It is being described as a multi-media release and footage from the project which was partially shot in Nepal and Dubai has begun to surface online. The first clip to leak is titled "Dear Moleskine" and can be found on YouTube, the track was produced by Just Blaze and the clip was directed by Jason Goldwatch from Decon. In June 2009, Decon and Jay's "The Dogon Society" released "Exhibit A" digitally. "Exhibit C" was released on iTunes December 16, 2009 and quickly shot to the top 10 of the iTunes Hip-Hop charts. The following week it was chosen by Hot 97's Dj Enuff as the Heavy Hitter pick of the week.

Jay Electronica appeared at the 2010 Bonnaroo Music Festival. Jay Electronica continued his scattered release practice, releasing "A Million in the Morning" on April 4, 2010. The song features a weary Electronica trying to keep himself awake to escape his nightmares. On April 30, Jay Electronica debuted "The Ghost of Christopher Wallace" via his Twitter. The song features P Diddy and is produced by London beatsmith Quincey Tones, who is known for producing such acts as Young Jeezy and Royce da 5'9".

On November 12, 2010, Jay-Z announced that Jay Electronica was officially the newest member of his Roc Nation imprint, which boasts such acts as J. Cole, and Willow Smith. Before signing to Roc Nation in 2010, Jay Electronica was a prospective signee of Bad Boy Records, a label owned by entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs, with whom Electronica is professionally close with.[11]

In late 2010, Electronica and actress Lucy Liu were featured on The Bullitts' song "Close Your Eyes". It was BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe's 'record of the week' and featured on The Bullitts album They Die By Dawn & Other Short Stories released in July 2013.

In July 2011, Jay Electronica posted via his Twitter that his debut album, Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn), was complete.[12] On October 10, 2011, Jay Electronica released the song "Call of Duty" featuring Prodigy from Mobb Deep. He stated that this single would not be on his album. On March 8, 2012, Jay Electronica tweeted that the album is complete and will be turned in to Roc Nation.[13]

On March 15, 2014, Jay Electronica released the song "Better In Tune With The Infinite" featuring LaTonya Givens. The song features an excerpt of Professor Marvel's monologue from The Wizard of Oz (1939 film)[14] and will reportedly be included on the long delayed "Act II," according to a tracklist that Jay Electronica leaked in 2012.[15] Later, on March 22, 2014, he released a remix to Soulja Boy's "We Made It", featuring Jay-Z.[16]

On March 6th, 2015, Jay Electronica released "Road to Perdition" featuring Jay-Z. The song uses an audio sample from Ronald Reagan's "A Time For Choosing" 1964 speech. [17]

Personal life[edit]

Electronica and Erykah Badu have one child together, Mars Merkaba Thedford, born on February 1, 2009.[18] On June 2, 2012, it was revealed that Electronica had been having an affair with Ben Goldsmith's music producer wife, Kate Rothschild, for a year. On discovering texts between Rothschild, with whom he has three children and had been with for eleven years, and Electronica, Goldsmith announced that he would be filing for divorce on the grounds of adultery.[19] Electronica is affiliated with the Five Percent Nation and the Nation of Islam.[20] He is currently based in London, United Kingdom.[21]



List of mixtapes, with selected information
Title Album details
Act I: The Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge)
  • Released: July 2, 2007
  • Formats: Digital download


As lead artist[edit]

List of singles as lead artist, with selected chart positions, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"Exhibit A (Transformations)"[22] 2009 N/A
"Exhibit C"[23] 86
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

As featured artist[edit]

List of singles as featured artist, with selected chart positions, showing year released and album name
Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"Just Begun"[24]
(Reflection Eternal featuring J. Cole, Mos Def and Jay Electronica)
2010 Revolutions per Minute
"Close Your Eyes"[25]
(The Bullitts featuring Lucy Liu and Jay Electronica)
2011 They Die By Dawn & Other Short Stories...
(Big Sean featuring Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica)
2013 111 43 N/A
"Kingdom (Remix)"
(Common featuring Vince Staples and Jay Electronica)
2014 N/A
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or receive certification.

Guest appearances[edit]

List of non-single guest appearances, with other performing artists, showing year released and album name
Title Year Album Artist(s)
"Cool, Relax" 2008 10.Deep Presents The New Deal Kidz in the Hall
"Walking (J.Period Remix)" 2009 The Madness J.Period & Nneka
"Love Czars II" N/A Sa-Ra, Ta'Raach
"The Day" 2010 Pilot Talk Curren$y, Mos Def
"Live It" Heart of a Champion Paul Wall, Raekwon, Yelawolf
"Prowler 2" 24 Hour Karate School Ski Beatz, Jean Grae, Joell Ortiz, Original, Mos Def
"Higher" N/A Game, Swizz Beatz
"Atom Anthem" 2012 #Atom 12.12.12 D. Prosper
"Hail Mary" So Magnolia CETO
"Suplexes Inside of Complexes and Duplexes"[26] 2013 Watching Movies with the Sound Off Mac Miller
"They Die By Dawn"[27] They Die By Dawn & Other Short Stories... The Bullitts, Lucy Lui, Yasiin Bey
"Murder Death Kill"[27] The Bullitts
"Control"[28] N/A Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar
"Jedi Code"[29] She Got Game Rapsody, Phonte
"Kingdom (Remix)"[30] 2014 N/A Common, Vince Staples
"To Me, To You"[31] PRhyme Royce da 5'9" & DJ Premier

Production discography[edit]


Nas - Untitled[edit]


Self Scientific – Have Mercy[edit]

  • 00. "Mercy" (feat. Kobe) (produced with DJ Khalil)


  1. ^ "Jay Electronica Co-Signs Soulja Boy 'It's Not About Lyrics, It's About Energy - HIPHOPNEWS24-7.COM". YouTube. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  2. ^ Burgess, Omar (2010-11-13). "Jay-Z Signs Jay Electronica To Roc Nation | Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales". HipHopDX. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  3. ^ "Jay Electronica MTV Interview". 
  4. ^ a b c Jesse Serwer. "Jay Electronica: A Spotless Mind :: An MC’s mystery revealed", URB #152, January 2008.
  5. ^ "Prime Productions Posse: Just Blaze, Mike Chav, Jay Electronica", guitarcenter.com, October 2008.
  6. ^ Giles Peterson Worldwide
  7. ^ Aliya Ewing. "Nas Big Ups Jay Electronica", hiphopdx.com. March 29, 2008.
  8. ^ Jeff Weiss. "Jay Electronica: Much Better Than His Name Would Suggest", LA Weekly, April 4, 2008.
  9. ^ Andres Tardio. "Nas Co-signs Jay Electronica", hiphopdx.com, May 19, 2008.
  10. ^ "Video: Behind the Scenes w/ Jay Electronica in New Orleans". Nah Right. 2009-11-14. Retrieved 2011-02-20. 
  11. ^ "Jay Electronica Tha Hip Hop Interview". 
  12. ^ http://hypetrak.com/2011/07/jay-electronicas-album-is-completed/
  13. ^ http://www.thesource.com/articles/204874?thesource-prod=tkt5q1netbglgit97iugemvne1/
  14. ^ "Jay Electronica Better In Tune With The Infinite (Ft. LaTonya Givens)". http://www.indieshuffle.com. Retrieved 2014-03-17.  line feed character in |title= at position 16 (help); External link in |publisher= (help)
  15. ^ http://pitchfork.com/news/47298-jay-electronica-shares-album-tracklist/
  16. ^ https://soundcloud.com/cracktracks504/we-made-it-jay-z-x-jay
  17. ^ http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/hear-jay-electronica-sample-jay-z-for-anthemic-road-to-perdition-20150306.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ "Erykah Badu and Jay Electronica Welcome a Daughter" Celebrity Baby Blog, February 2, 2009
  19. ^ "Rothschild heiress's marriage to Goldsmith heir is over ... after she falls for a rapper called Jay Electronica," by Katie Smith, Daily Mail, June 2, 2012
  20. ^ http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/Perspectives_1/article_101628.shtml
  21. ^ "Just Blaze Talks Hip-House, Says He's Not Working With Jay Electronica At The Moment Get The Latest Hip Hop News, Rap News & Hip Hop Album Sales HipHop DX". 2012-05-03. Retrieved 2012-05-09. 
  22. ^ ""Exhibit A" - Single by Jay Electronica". iTunes Store. Apple. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  23. ^ ""Exhibit C" - Single by Jay Electronica". iTunes Store. Apple. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  24. ^ Just Begun (track listing). Reflection Eternal. Blacksmith Records. 2010. 
  25. ^ "Close Your Eyes - EP by The Bullitts". iTunes Store. Apple. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  26. ^ "Mac Miller – Watching Movies With The Sound Off (Tracklist)". 25 May 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2013. 
  27. ^ a b "They Die By Dawn & Other Short Stories - Album by The Bullitts". iTunes Store. Apple. Retrieved July 9, 2013. 
  28. ^ "Big Sean f. Kendrick Lamar & Jay Electronica - "Control (HOF)"". HipHopDX. Cheri Media Group. August 13, 2013. Retrieved August 13, 2013. 
  29. ^ "Rapsody – She Got Game // Free Mixtape". DatPiff. Idle Media Inc. 2013-08-21. Retrieved 2013-08-21. 
  30. ^ "Common f. Vince Staples & Jay Electronica - "Kingdom (Remix)"". HipHopDX. Cheri Media Group. September 24, 2014. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  31. ^ https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/prhyme/id927056584

External links[edit]