Jay Electronica

Jay Electronica

In Jeff Weiss' oft-referenced L.A. Weekly article "Jay Electronica: Much Better Than His Name Would Suggest," he suggested the rapper-producer would be better known "had he chosen a better name." However, the rather faceless name suits the artist's career to date. The man born Timothy Elpadaro Thedford has created smoke-and-mirror illusions around his pen name that have alternately captivated and frustrated potential audiences. Using the Internet, most notably two different (and alternately opening and closing) MySpace accounts, and choice contacts, he has built interest in his career without using the traditional hip-hop paths of mixtapes and/or record label-distributed albums.

Little has been documented about Electronica's background. He was born in New Orleans but has spoken of living in cities across the United States. He first attracted attention in 2007 with the free MySpace release of Act 1: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge), which featured him rhyming extensively with no hooks over samples of Jon Brion's film score to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The 15-minute-long piece also included confessional-style statements from producer Just Blaze and singer Erykah Badu (with whom he has been romantically linked), which cemented Electronica's reputation as an artist to follow.   

Shortly thereafter, Electronica released a collection of music called Style Wars, wherein he rapped over other artist's productions, notably those of the late producer J Dilla. Although he had a limited amount of material in circulation, U.K. DJ Gilles Peterson devoted one of his radio shows to Electronica in January 2008. Through his partner Badu, Electronica met rapper Nas. Nas asked the burgeoning artist to contribute a track to his Untitled (Nigger) album. Electronica subsequently toured with Nas, as well as with many other marquee artists, on the Rock the Bells package tour.

In late 2008, Electronica announced the pending release of his Act 1 follow-up, Act II: Patents of Nobility. In 2009 he digitally released two singles: "Exhibit A (Transformations)" and "Exhibit C." The latter track was a collaboration with early supporter Just Blaze. The song also marked the first time Electronica had been in rotation on commercial radio playlists. He also announced he would release a multimedia project through Decon. Brief video clips shot in Nepal and Dubai surfaced on YouTube, as well as brief music snippets, such as "Dear Moleskin," but little is known about the project's content. ~Dan Nishimoto

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