Published Mar 18, 2020Scant yet enduring, Jay Electronica's humble catalogue has elevated him to godlike status among fans. But his music has also built a level of expectation that, for over a decade, has rendered the Louisiana native paralyzed by his own greatness. In some ways, on his long-awaited studio debut A Written Testimony, he still is. But this album is an important step on the road toward the classic he was born to deliver.
A Written Testimony is a solid effort that makes good on promises set by Electronica's earlier work: thumping, vintage beats; dense rhymes that shimmer with vivid imagery; clever references to the Nation of Islam. His ethereal ability to bend language shines brightest on "Ezekiel's Wheel" and the devastating "A.P.I.D.T.A." And though his brand of confidence is quieter than his collaborator JAY-Z, Electronica's self-assurance peeks through on standouts like "Flux Capacitor" and "Universal Soldier."
Still though, as welcome as JAY-Z's frequent appearances on A Written Testimony are, it's clear that his purpose here is to serve as Electronica's human security blanket. That's forgivable for a first run, but if Electronica is to reach his full potential, he'll need to get comfortable with standing on his own two feet on future albums. Hopefully this first crack at a studio album was the push Electronica needed to get out of his own head. (Roc Nation)