One of the most talked-about rappers of 2008, Jay Electronica built his reputation via the Internet and word of mouth, without so much as a single commercial release to his credit.
Born Je'Ri Allah in 1976, he grew up in the Magnolia projects of New Orleans, where he lived until age 19. In the years that followed, he lived a nomadic lifestyle, moving back and forth between Atlanta, New York, Detroit, and Baltimore, among other cities. He adopted the Jay Electronica alias while living in Baltimore circa 2000. While in Detroit, he befriended associates of J Dilla, working closely with engineer Mike "Chav" Chavarria and collaborating with producer Denaun Porter (aka Mr. Porter). As a rapper, he distributed his recordings via the Internet, primarily his MySpace page. Among these Internet-circulated recordings, a few stood out and helped create a buzz: "Act 1," an epic homemade rap over Jon Brion's score for the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; "Bitches and Drugs," a J Dilla production; "Extra Extra," a Madlib production; and the StyleWars EP. The word of mouth didn't hurt, either, as Erykah Badu, Just Blaze, Nas, and others spoke highly of Jay Electronica in the media. Moreover, Badu reportedly made him the first signee of her Control FreaQ Records label. ~ Jason Birchmeier, Rovi