Jay Electronica And Erykah Badu On Stage At Nokia Theatre / courtesy of blog.brettmickelson.com
photo courtesy of blog.brettmickelson.com

Came across the first few reviews to hit the interweb of Jay Electronica’s performance last night at Nokia Theatre. The first one I read appears to have been written by a fan of Mos Def who was not familiar with Jay. His perspective as a new listener is noteworthy. He was obviously disappointed and seemed almost a bit annoyed. This being the second mumbling of a mixed live performance and considering all the interest in performing live being spouted by the man himself, I was hoping to find something with a bit more insight. Lucky for me someone (update: Dj Newby) left a comment on that post with a more comprehensive review of Jay’s set. And it seems to have been written by a hardcore Jay Electronica fan which makes it even more relevant. These two write-ups plus the grunting over at okayplayer make it sound like his set didn’t go down the way he had hoped. But as so many have already pointed out, Mos Def fans and Jay Electronica fans might not go hand in hand. That, and this is Jay’s what, second live performance? Link

Jay on stage is like Jay in person, and it turns out to be a blessing and a curse. As Jay’s 3d graphics of jotted words whiz by on the projector behind him, he puts his heart into his raps on the front of the stage. But his mic doesn’t work to well, and he doesn’t hold the it close enough. The sound guy in the back of the venue could care less and isn’t monitoring the levels, so he’s hard to understand for most. In-between songs he tried to talk to the audience as if they were in a conversation, but he hadn’t yet gained the respect from the crowd to earn talking time. He tries to tell a story that happened to him in elementary school but the crowd isn’t having it. Jay gets angry and threatens the crowd by saying Mos won’t perform if they don’t listen. This is where Jay’s emotions conflict with his performance. The crowd barely remains attentive until Erykah Badu comes out and sings the hook of one of Jay’s raps called “Victory is in My Clutches.” Jay talks some more, but this time the crowd listens as he proceeds to question the motives of mainstream media and rappers, asking them to step their game up. Among the names of rappers being thrown out, someone in the crowd yells out “Lil’ Wayne,” who Jay tries to defend as he describes the squalor of Lil’ Wayne’s neighborhood he grew up in. Jay continues to struggle with the audience’s reluctance, and shifts focus from himself to getting the crowd hyped for Mos Def’s performance next. You can sense his disappointment towards his reception as he wears his emotions on his sleeve. Jay leaves by angrily and confidently throwing down the mic as a picture of his face that is reminiscent of 50 Cent’s latest album cover fills the projection screen, the crowd is left more confused than dumbfounded. They weren’t ready.