|Timothy Elpadaro Thedford|
September 19, 1976|
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Timothy Elpadaro Thedford (born September 19, 1976), known professionally as Jay Electronica, is an American rapper and record producer from New Orleans. Electronica first gained significant attention after the release of the musical composition Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge), which was made available on a MySpace page in 2007. It is fifteen continuous minutes of music, without drums, built from Jon Brion's soundtrack to the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In late 2009 he released two singles, both produced by Just Blaze, "Exhibit A (Transformations)" and "Exhibit C", the latter of which won a Sucker Free Summit Award for Instant Classic. In November 2010, it was announced Jay Electronica had signed to Jay Z's Roc Nation record label.
Thedford was born on September 19, 1976, in the Magnolia Projects of New Orleans, renowned for having some of the highest crime rates in the country before being flooded during Hurricane Katrina. Thedford began rapping after hearing his uncle rhyme. By the age of 19 Jay Electronica left New Orleans to pursue his musical career. Living a mostly nomadic lifestyle, he found refuge in cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Detroit, Denver, and briefly in Atlanta. From club to club, and stage to stage, Electronica had gotten booed off and denied because of his Southern accent and slang. "In my earlier years from when I first left home, I was embarrassed from being from the South," Thedford stated. "Not in general, but as a rapper because all of the negative things that people in the States put on the South." Electronica's career really took off in Detroit when he linked up with Detroit native Johnnie Last. In Detroit, Electronica met producer/engineer Mike "Chav" Chavarria, now a regular collaborator, who introduced him to both J. Dilla and Mr. Porter. It is here that he recorded his Style Wars-era music with several J. Dilla beats, meeting the producer subsequently to ask for permission to use the recordings as a demo.
Jay Electronica first gained significant attention through Act 1: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge), made available on a MySpace page in 2007. It is fifteen continuous minutes of music, without drums, built from Jon Brion's soundtrack to the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. There are five segments or movements marked by changes in music and mood, raps by Electronica, and occasional snippets of sampled dialogue including scenes from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The first segment is a spoken word piece by Just Blaze and Erykah Badu describing Electronica over piano music.
The nature of the piece of music, along with the nature of its appearance, led to a slow build-up of interest in Electronica as an enigmatic figure. Songs circulating online as the Style Wars EP gained wider circulation, and other songs, such as the dream-inspired "Dimethyltryptamine", appeared. In January 2008, Giles Peterson's 90-minute Gilles Peterson Worldwide podcast was devoted to the rapper. Hiphopdx.com in 2008 called him "arguably...the most talked about new emcee last year ... at times...more like a myth or urban legend than an actual rapper", and URB ran a cover story on the artist under the banner "Jay Electronica: A Spotless Mind :: An MC's mystery revealed", which referred to his wanderings as his being "like some sort of hip-hop Jack Kerouac".
Jeff Weiss' piece for the L.A. Weekly, "Jay Electronica: Much Better Than His Name Would Suggest", acknowledged that the rapper could be fairly described as "one of the most buzzed about rappers of 2008", but attempted to temper the hype somewhat, describing Act 1... as "ambitious, wildly original, if not slightly pretentious", while endorsing only to an extent the comparisons URB had made (referencing an "abstract rhyming style") to rappers like Nas and Pharoahe Monch.
According to URB, Act II: Patents of Nobility will feature Nas, and will be the second of a putative trilogy. URB also reported that digital EPs with both Guilty Simpson and producer 9th Wonder were planned. According to a Filter TV interview, Jay Electronica has partnered with Decon to release his debut project. It is being described as a multi-media release and footage from the project which was partially shot in Nepal and Dubai has begun to surface online. The first clip to leak is titled "Dear Moleskine" and can be found on YouTube, the track was produced by Just Blaze and the clip was directed by Jason Goldwatch from Decon. In June 2009, Decon and Jay's "The Dogon Society" released "Exhibit A (Transformations)" digitally. "Exhibit C" was released on iTunes December 16, 2009 and quickly shot to the top 10 of the iTunes Hip-Hop charts.
Jay Electronica appeared at the 2010 Bonnaroo Music Festival. Jay Electronica continued his scattered release practice, releasing "A Million in the Morning" on April 4, 2010. The song features a weary Electronica trying to keep himself awake to escape his nightmares. On April 30, Jay Electronica debuted "The Ghost of Christopher Wallace" via his Twitter. The song features P Diddy and is produced by London beatsmith Quincey Tones, who is known for producing such acts as Young Jeezy and Royce da 5'9".
On November 12, 2010, Jay-Z announced that Jay Electronica had signed with his Roc Nation imprint. In late 2010, Electronica and actress Lucy Liu were featured on The Bullitts' song "Close Your Eyes" that was featured on the album They Die By Dawn & Other Short Stories released in July 2013.
In July 2011, Jay Electronica posted via his Twitter that his debut album, Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn), was complete. On October 10, 2011, Jay Electronica released the song "Call of Duty" featuring Prodigy from Mobb Deep. On March 15, 2014, Jay Electronica released the song "Better In Tune With The Infinite" featuring LaTonya Givens. The song features an excerpt of Professor Marvel's monologue from The Wizard of Oz (1939 film) and will reportedly be included on the long delayed "Act II," according to a track list that Jay Electronica leaked in 2012. Later, on March 22, 2014, he released a remix to Soulja Boy's "We Made It", featuring Jay-Z.
On July 3, 2016, after much anticipation, Jay Electronica hinted that he would be dropping new music (The Turn) by writing on his Twitter, "To all those who have been patient with me and supported me over the years, thank you. And get #Tidal#AreYouWatchingClosely?". He released "The Curse of the Mayweather" in February 2016.
Electronica and Erykah Badu have one child together, Mars Merkaba Thedford, born in 2009. On June 2, 2012, it was revealed that Electronica had been having an affair with Ben Goldsmith's music manager wife, Kate Rothschild, for a year. Electronica is affiliated with the Five Percent Nation and the Nation of Islam. He was based in London for some time.
|Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge)||
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"Exhibit A (Transformations)"||2009||--||--||--||N/A|
|"--" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Album|
(Reflection Eternal featuring J. Cole, Mos Def and Jay Electronica)
|2010||--||--||--||Revolutions per Minute|
|"Close Your Eyes"
(The Bullitts featuring Lucy Liu and Jay Electronica)
|2011||--||--||--||They Die By Dawn & Other Short Stories...|
(Big Sean featuring Kendrick Lamar and Jay Electronica)
|"Hard 2 Face Reality"
(Poo Bear featuring Justin Bieber and Jay Electronica)
|2018||106||--||--||Poo Bear Presents Bearthday Music|
|"--" denotes releases that did not chart or receive certification.|
|"Cool, Relax"||2008||10.Deep Presents The New Deal||Kidz in the Hall|
|"Walking (J.Period Remix)"||2009||The Madness||J.Period & Nneka|
|"Love Czars II"||N/A||Sa-Ra, Ta'Raach|
|"The Day"||2010||Pilot Talk||Curren$y, Mos Def|
|"Live It"||Heart of a Champion||Paul Wall, Raekwon, Yelawolf|
|"Prowler 2"||24 Hour Karate School||Ski Beatz, Jean Grae, Joell Ortiz, Original, Mos Def|
|"Higher"||N/A||Game, Swizz Beatz|
|"Atom Anthem"||2012||#Atom 12.12.12||D. Prosper|
|"Hail Mary"||So Magnolia||CETO|
|"Suplexes Inside of Complexes and Duplexes"||2013||Watching Movies with the Sound Off||Mac Miller|
|"They Die By Dawn"||They Die By Dawn & Other Short Stories...||The Bullitts, Lucy Liu, Yasiin Bey|
|"Murder Death Kill"||The Bullitts|
|"Control"||N/A||Big Sean, Kendrick Lamar|
|"Jedi Code"||She Got Game||Rapsody, Phonte|
|"Kingdom (Remix)"||2014||N/A||Common, Vince Staples|
|"To Me, To You"||PRhyme||Royce da 5'9" & DJ Premier|
|"How Great"||2016||Coloring Book||Chance the Rapper, My Cousin Nicole|
|"Garden"||Long Live the Angels||Emeli Sandé, Áine Zion|