Many people in the hip-hop world believed the long-awaited debut album from Jay Electronica would never actually happen.
Almost a decade has passed since he first got attention with “Exhibit A” and was touted as the “next savior of hip-hop OMGOMGOMG!” He signed to Roc Nation in 2010… and we’ve been waiting ever since.
Over NBA All Star Weekend, Roc Nation head Jay Z had Electronica join him on stage and said “Let’s go put this album out.” Electronica hasn’t exactly bought in, though, telling Billboard that “an album is a false concept anyway,” and Complex that “I release music in my own time… you can’t put a stopwatch on that.”
Well, Mr. Electronica, we actually technically can.
Since Jay Electronica signed to Roc Nation on November 12, 2010…
1) Roc Nation put out a lifetime of material
At Electronica’s signing, Roc Nation had really only put out Blueprint 3. Since then, in addition to most-recently signing Rihanna and putting out Anti, as well as Jay and Ye’s Watch the Throne which alone feels like forever ago, Roc Nation put out every single J. Cole project. J. Cole is about to embark on a stadium tour for his fourth album, and we haven’t gotten a single from Electronica.
2) Streaming became the norm
When Jay Electronica signed to Roc Nation, not only was Instagram not available on Android, but “streaming” music was limited to 30-second samples of songs on iTunes. Since then, not only has Jay-Z, the man who signed Electronica, make a major investment in Tidal, but Spotify and Apple Music have all changed the way the entire industry releases music.
3) Rappers have done jail time, been released, and put out albums
T.I., Lil Wayne, Gucci Mane and more have all did bids, came out, and rapped about it while a not-incarcerated Electronica never finished an album.
4) The entire Kendrick Lamar wave happened
When Jay Electronica was signed in 2010, it was assumed his project would be a breath of fresh air. But since then Kendrick Lamar emerged to beat him to that punch with three albums of fresh breath (Section 80, Good Kid m.A.A.d City, To Pimp a Butterfly) and his whole Top Dawg Entertainment empire.
5) Even the albums we never thought would never come out have come out
It’s telling that in the time we’ve been waiting for Jay Electronica’s album, all the long-awaited projects that were once the “never-coming-out” punchline have all come out. Dr. Dre’s 2001-follow-up Compton, Lupe Fiasco’s Lasers, and even similarly super-delayed debut Saigon’s The Greatest Story Never Told all hit store shelves in that time.