When Sunset in the Rearview’s own D Prep began his college career this September, he was unlucky enough to meet me, Honest Bill, his roommate. Although most of our interactions are based around violence and hatred, we occasionally make peace to talk about our favorite topic, and the favorite topic of many readers of this site: music. This past week, the topic was Jay Electronica. Thus we have joined together to deliver Sunset’s “Tape Tuesday”: The Realest. In an era dominated by swag and wonton soup, there is nothing better than slowing it down, sitting back, and listening to some more serious MC’s laying down their genius.
The first and most important track in this tape is Jay Electronica’s “Eternal Sunshine.” In this nine minute magnus opum of hip-hop, JayElec not only delivers multiple verses that I believe stand alone as some of the greatest of all time, but also pushes the boundaries of hip-hop with obscure samples and an array of beats that aren’t really beats at all; “I took Eternal Sunshine and I looped it, no drums no hook just new shit.” You have to listen to this track to understand it. Take ten minutes and give Jay some patience, he will give back one of the true gems of hip-hop.
It’s crazy to think about the lack of attention that Jay Elec receives. He’s on such a heightened level compared to others in the game right now, yet you never hear him on the radio; while Wayne wins Grammys, Jay Elec just lays down the realness; “I get tempted by all the rewards that come along with making n****r songs…and when you talk like this and try to walk like this the radio stations will never put a n****r on. Just Mims, just 50, just Wayne, just Jeezy and Franchize Boys and Jimmy Jones. Fuck that, fuck rap, this is God Hop. Kingdom music for the hard knocks.”
As further proof of Jay Elec’s genius, I have also thrown in “Exhibit A (Transformations)” which features an exquisite verse from Mos Def, and “My World (Nas Salute).”
Also included is Immortal Techniques’ “Dance with the Devil,” one of the most heavy-handed song in all of hip-hop. As one of Immortal’s best works, it simply wouldn’t be right not to include it. “Dance with the Devil” touches on issues ranging from drugs, to murder, to rape, in the brutally honest way Technique has become known for.
“Glen Close,” of Binary Star’s epic album Masters of The Universe, is quite simply one of my favorite politically inspired hip-hop tracks of all. It gets a little difficult towards the middle, but the opening verse is perfection.
“Dancing in the Rain” is an interesting take on the real struggles many rappers face. Blu discusses how difficult it is to make a career out of hip hop while making a living honestly; “I guess my bills ain’t paid/ No ride to work for the day/ Second option hop the bus but there’s a traffic delay/ My boss trippin’ cause I’m runnin’ late and ain’t no excuse/ When I’m about to be 22 without a whip I could swoop/ Feel like I’m fixin to shoot my own dome with chrome to escape/ Zonin’ out cause workin workin out ain’t worth what I make/ My lady callin’ buggin’ always fussin’ just cause we ain’t ballin’/ But it’s hard because her cousin is fuckin’ rich cause her husband’s hustlin’/ And I ain’t fuckin touchin’ nothin’ but a mic/ Five o’clock and off of work ready to go home and write.” Blu doesn’t try to pretend that he’s rich, or that he’s slangin’ caine, or that he’s got girls all over him; he raps about his daily struggles, and in an era where hip hop seems to be getting less and less real, Blu’s music is refreshing.
These last few tracks are RjD2 collaborations from his 2002 debut album, Deadringer. In my opinion these are some of the most musically interesting tracks in hip-hop, products of a game-changing musician like Rj complimented by top-shelf rappers like Blueprint, Jakki, and Copywrite.
This tape is a collection of real hip hop. Not “swag,” not “dope,” not “ill.” Just real.
- Eternal Sunshine – Jay Electronica
- Exhibit A (Transformations) – Jay Electronica
- My World (Nas Salute) – Jay Electronica
- Dance With The Devil – Immortal Technique
- Glen Close – Binary Star
- Final Frontier ft. Blueprint – RjD2
- F.H.H. ft. Jakki – RjD2
- Dancing in the Rain – Blu and Exile
- June ft. Copywrite – RjD2