It’s 2007, and Jay Electronica has just put out Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge). The 15 continuous minutes of music, without drums, built from Jon Brion’s soundtrack to the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, is a timeless classic. Idiosyncratically beautiful, the tape interspersed used samples from Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, spoken word, and an abstract rhyming style over orchestrated keys of ivory white and charcoal black.
It was aural haute couture. If you believed it, Jay Electronica, call him Jay ElecHannukah, Jay ElecRammadan, Muhammad A'salaamaleikum, was the deity that hip-hop had been waiting for. Even if you were atheist to the idea of a biblical rap icon, Jay Electronica perpetuated any worthwhile rap blog, heralded under the words: The Best Thing To Happen To Hip-Hop. In other words, he was fucking brilliant.
It’s 2013, and five years later, Jay Electronica hasn’t released another full-length. He’s had several singles, “Exhibit A” and “Exhibit C”, signed to Roc Nation, and received props from JAY Z – “Him as a lyricist is almost scary. He's scary good” – to Q-Tip, Nas, Diddy, and Erkyah Badu, with whom he has a child. But, still no album.
Understandably, for anyone with more than a casual interest in hip-hop, Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn) is the Holy Grail. Jay has tweeted on two occasions that the album is complete, once in 2011, and again, with a purposed tracklist, in July 2012. But, with no fixed release date, and a half-decade wait, anticipation for the record has reached both a fever point, and dismissal. Rap fans who believe that artists owe them something, rather than the other way round, have been demanding Jay release his record. But they’re slightly missing the point. It is meant to be a Holy Grail.
Let’s take into account the two titles for both records – (The Pledge) and (The Turn) – and contextualise them next to this quote from the film, The Prestige. Let Michael Caine explain.
“Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called "The Pledge". The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn". The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you're looking for the secret… but you won't find it, because of course you're not really looking. You don't really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn't clap yet. Because making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call "The Prestige"."
Jay Electronica loves films – remember, his first mixtape was built entirely upon the Eternal Sunshine soundtrack and movie samples – therefore it wouldn’t be ridiculous to suggest that he has built his career upon The Prestige. It’s fact that the first two album titles directly correlate to the above quote, with a third, reportedly titled Act III: The Last Will & Testament of Timothy Elpadaro Thedford (The Prestige), cementing the theory.