Artist: Jay Electronica
Title: "Be Easy"
Producer: Jay Electronica
Album: Style Wars EP (mixtape) (2007)
There's quite a few of you, I'm willing to bet, who are questioning my choice of Jay Electronica song for this mixtape-playlist-whatever the fuck it is I think I'm doing. Sure, there are technically better and more creative selections I could have picked from: a personal favorite is "Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge)", where he spits over the score to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (one of my favorite movies ever, so maybe I'm a little bit biased here), and I know a lot of you two have an affinity for the Just Blaze-produced "Exhibit A" or maybe even "Exhibit C". But what I'm looking for here is something I can ride to, something that is simple but effective at making the head nod, and that something today is "Be Easy", generic song title and all.
Jay Electronica hasn't gotten a ton of press over here, but the reason for that is simple: he's never released an actual album. All of the stuff that appears on Discogs are mixtapes, from the Style Wars EP that "Be Easy" was taken from (named after a series of demos he recorded in 2004 in Detroit) to the compilation What the Fuck is a Jay Electronica?, which the Interweb has taken to accepting as quasi-official. Electronica is currently signed with a different Jay's record label (that would be Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z, obviously), and has been promising a debut full-length obnoxiously entitled Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn) for what's going on sixty-four years now; when we will ever see it is anyone's guess, since I seriously doubt he has any radio-ready singles on that motherfucker. But that's a tale for another time.
"Be Easy" is much more accessible than, say, "Exhibit C", but just as lyrically impressive. Over a self-produced (at least as far as I can find online) instrumental that immediately brings the word "militant" to mind, and not just because the hook contains the phrase "ready for war" repeated four times per instance, Electronica pumps out three verses full of well-crafted boasts and shit-talking. For anyone who is still on the fence about listening to the man's work, who believe his music to be both daunting and impregnable, I urge you to find "Be Easy", where he proves that he can spit alongside the best of them, even though he takes on this track for dolo. He pays quick homage to several influences, including what he refers to as "that revolutionary Pac shit" and the Ultramagnetic MCs, briefly, confirming that, regardless of his New Orleans home of record, he's capable of spitting fire, even if the hook is kind of meh. But not meh enough to disregard the track as a whole.
The beat reminds me of something Killarmy might have wanted to rhyme over while recording their first album, which is a compliment: one wonders what Killa Sin could have done with it. Mr. Porter's name is shouted out during the third verse, so I guess it is possible that he may have actually produced the track (I couldn't find any confirmation online, so any further info you two may have would be appreciated), but then again, Dame Dash is also the recipient of some props, and yet Jay ended up signing with Hova. Huh. But for a track that was possibly recorded eleven fucking years ago, it holds up surprisingly well, and fits in perfectly onto a playlist filled with songs you may not have given a second look to otherwise.
There's absolutely no way any album Electronica releases at this point will ever live up to the ridiculous amount of hype he once had surrounding him (hype I never really bought into: as much as I possibly can, I try to reserve judgement until something actually comes my way, but it doesn't always work out the way I hope), so hopefully someone smuggles his debut off of his computer and unleashes it to the masses, just so we don't have another Saigon or Papoose situation on our hands. Get it out of the way, I say, so Electronica can start focusing on the next one. But for now, "Be Easy".
Do you agree or disagree with this selection? Discuss below.