Jay Electronica’s “Exhibit C” is better than most rapper’s entire careers, which just makes the seemingly never-ending delay for his album all the more frustrating.
There’s been promises, a tracklist, and even a Making Of video, but still no release date. We know the album will be called Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn), following Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge), where he rapped over the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind score (“no drums, no hooks, just new shit”), but not much more than that.
Here’s a history of anticipation and disappointment.
July 2009: The rapper posts a preview of “Dear Moleskine” on his YouTube account. I will go on to play the 105 second clip approximately four million times over the next few years.
October 2009: Just Blaze plays a track that will later become known as “Exhibit C” during an appearance on Tony Touch’s radio show. The internet explodes. Has a better rap song come out since?
December 2009: Jay says that Act II will come out on Christmas Day. It does not.
January 2010: Just Blaze and Jay Electronica blame Nas for Act II’s delay, saying that he didn’t send his verses on time.
February 2010: On Gilles Peterson’s Radio 1 show, Jay Electronica says that “Act II is still coming,” but doesn’t reveal a date. He adds that projects with Nas and Mos Def are also in the pipeline.
August 2010: Semtex interviews the rapper after hearing some of the songs intended for Act II, saying: “He’s done it, followed the code, cracked the safe, got the formula. The wait is almost over.” Jay says it will be finished soon and adds that he’d now like to release Act II on his birthday, September 19th.
September 19th 2010: His birthday comes and goes with no release.
July 2010: Jay shares a song that won’t make the cut for Act II. It’s a beautiful tribute to Erykah Badu, his former girlfriend. Try and fathom just how good those songs that make the final album will be.
November 2010: He signs to Jay Z’s record label, Roc Nation, leading to speculation that Act II was imminent. “The Announcement” and “Shiny Suit Theory”, which saw Jay’s E and Z rap alongside a hook from The-Dream, are released shortly after. Both are mind-blowing.
March 2011: A video titled “The Making of Act II” appears online.
April 2011: Young Guru (Jay Z’s engineer) visits London to work on the album. He tells the HHC that Jay’s going to be a “worldwide star”, before adding that the rapper reminded him why he loved hip-hop so much.
July 2011: Jay Electronica is scheduled to make a very rare public appearance at Wireless Festival in London. I buy a ticket purely because he’s going to be performing. He pulls out to “finish recording his album”. At least The Streets were great.
July 2011: Jay tweets the album is done. The tweet is later deleted.
October 2011: A song called “Call of Duty” featuring Mobb Deep comes out. It’s his first since “Exhibit C” and, at the time of writing, still his most recent official release. It’s not very good.
October 2011: Guru says that the delays will be worth the wait: “Jay Electronica’s [album] is going to be an incredible, special album, and by no means do I ever want to rush it. It will be served when it’s time… when he’s ready, it will come out.”
March 2012: Jay tweets that the album’s ready to be turned in to Roc Nation, ending with “The wait ends”. LOL.
March 2012: Questlove reveals that Jay Z has a finished version of the Jay Electronica album, revealing that Hov “listens to it constantly and says it’s his favourite record of 2012. It has no singles on it, but it’s his favourite record.”
April 2012: Designer FWMJ shares the planned Act II artwork prior to the Roc Nation deal.
April 2012: Guru again: “Everything you want, it will be that and more… it’s an incredible album, but it’s up to him. He has a very specific way that he wants it to come out, a very specific plan… He moves on his own time and I don’t fight that no more. I used to fight it, but that’s the key to his magic.”
April 2012: The full version of “Dear Moleskine” leaks, almost three years after the preview was posted on YouTube. It’s everything I dreamed it would be.
May 2012: Jay Z shows off about having heard the album, telling MTV it’s “really close and exactly what it should be. It’s amazing. Him as a lyricist is almost scary.”
July 2012: Jay Electronica shares the Act II tracklist in a (now deleted, obviously) tweet.
September 2012: While performing at the Made in America festival, he announces the first Act II single will feature Chris Brown (boo). No word on that single since.
July 2013: Following the release of albums from Roc Nation peers Jay Z and J. Cole, Jay Elec tweets: “ok. now it’s my turn. Lets Go.” No one believes him.
July 2013: Jeymes Samuel (The Bullitts), who’s collaborated with the rapper, says to NME: “Honestly, it’s in the last stages of recording. It’s just tinkering. Just putting the final… you know when a builder builds a house? And when he’s finished the walls he gives them one little brush over, like a once over? And then the album will be done.” Dom from Cowboy Builders wouldn’t put up with delays like this.
September 2013: Just Blaze tells Vlad TV the album is almost done. “The reality of it is there’s like a couple of songs that maybe he needs to do a verse over on, maybe a song or two that needs maybe a string arrangement or something, but for the most part the core of the album is there.”
January 2014: Still no sign of a release, expecting it to drop on the same day as Detox any time now…