With no album out, and 10 years after releasing his debut single Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge) that took the world by storm, Jay Electronica came to Center Stage and gave his core fans a performance that they will never forget.
As I frantically walked through the parking garage under Center Stage, through the thick clouds of weed smoke being blown by oddly dressed hip hop heads of all shapes, sizes, and colors, I realized that I was no longer alone. You see I share a world with people that I only tolerate because I have to, and for a night I realized that there were others just like me. It’s almost like that Brad Pitt movie, Fight Club, where normal civilians during the day, organize at night, and behave in ways that the assholes that rule the day would call savage and juvenile.
I made my way to the door of the venue at around 8:07pm, and was asked to show my ID just in case I wanted to buy alcohol. I was then given a wrist band, searched for weapons by a second set of guards this time actual APD, then directed into the building after my digital ticket was scanned. No one was on the stage yet so I went to the bar and began throwing back shots of Kettle One vodka to get more in the mood. I don’t need liquor to have fun, I just like it.
The sparsely populated crowd was standing around hanging out while different people with the show walked back and forth across the stage. This venue holds a maximum of about 1,050 people which would represent a quite intimate setting for those of you that are used to much lager venues like Lakewood Amphitheater which comfortably seats 20,000. Keep in mind its been a decade with no new music and only some mix tapes so for anyone to show up at all says something about how much weight this dude still carries.
At about 8:20 the lights dimmed, the DJ began to do his thing, and the first opening act took the stage. The first artist was named LG and to be completely honest I could not understand a word this dude was saying. I liked his energy and the way he commanded the stage but his vocals were inaudible to me. The cool part of all the opening acts were that they are all from New Orleans and represent the essence of real hip hop. Now because I am not a lazy ass, I did my best to remember each act that performed and look them up them online for a second or third listen. After listening to his recorded music I must say that LG is fucking dope, but I couldn’t necessarily tell by his live show. Check out the video below.
Now next up was an artist that had a completely different command of the stage. I would say this mother fucker was like a wild animal running back and forth uncaged with an energy that could be felt throughout the building. To be fair, this was my experience, and I respect every artist that performed. They gave their all to the crowd, but to be honest I didn’t like this artist’s music so much. And by this time my liquor had run out, so I left his set to re-up on drinks. I did take a picture but it came out really fuzzy because this dude never was still enough to get a proper pose. I feel horrible because I didn’t even catch his name but it wasn’t really my thing, so oh well.
Now for a quick recap, my experience has been a rapper that sounded cool but had inaudible vocals, and another rapper that had a much better live show but his lyrics were basic and couldn’t keep my attention. The venue was starting to get more crowded as more people streamed in, and some of the patrons were beginning to light up blunts on the middle of the dancefloor (the nerve of some people SMH).
Someone knew what they were doing because each act’s live show was better then the last. Out of no where 3 rappers walked out on stage, began their set, and changed the entire direction of where the show was going. Their name was Made Groceries and their stage show reminded me of Goodie Mob. Not only could I understand every word, but the vibe of the songs they performed blew me and the crowd that was beginning to form, away keeping everyone entertained. My favorite song of the set was Yeah. They did some of it acapella, but only after they had went through 3 verses. I don’t buy nearly as much music as I used to, but will defiantly purchase whatever these guys have to sell. I’d compare them more to Pharcyde after listening to their recorded songs but check them out for yourselves below.
Now once again I feel horrible because there was another artist that came after Made Groceries and he wasn’t that bad but he wasn’t as good as them in may opinion, so I left to go drink some more. This sounds like I’m dissing him but I swear I’m not, its just that MG really killed it, and performing after a group that does as well as they did is a very difficult task and obviously I didn’t think he was able to live up to it.
After consuming my final shots of vodka I made my way back to the floor to continue the show. The artist had just finished his set and Jay’s DJ made his way to the stage, took off his book bag, and began warming the crowd up. He started out by playing The Choice is Yours by Blacksheep which 20 hours later as I write this is still playing in my head. The crowd was digging it too. Next he played ATLiens by Outkast and that was also a crowd favorite seeing as how it was so unexpected. He follows those classics with some TI and some other records which I can’t all remember right now as the many shots was Kettle One and contact from the smoke were starting to take effect.
Jay Electronica entered the stage to cheers and wasted no time giving the loyal fans who came to see him a great show. He told the sound man to turn his microphone down, which is a sign of a true lyricist who wanted the crowd to absorb his wordplay and not be lost in the noise. He jumped off the stage, climbed on the guard rail, and began performing Exhibit A, which is something I had never seen an artist do before. With one hand holding a random fan’s hand for support, and the other clutching the microphone, JE gave the good folks of Atlanta all he had. I would have taken a picture but I was literally stunned by his performance and couldn’t move.
Most of the show was done in the middle of the crowd allowing fans to join in with the performance. At one point during the show Jay asked 2 fans, that had to be born and raised in Atlanta to come on stage and rap. He found 2 guys but they were both novices and were booed. Jay stopped the booing though, and reminded the crowd how hard it was to get up there and perform like that.
All in all this was a great show and I hope he puts out an album soon because the love that he showed and received is something that can grow into something that we have never experienced before in hip hop culture. Jay Electronica is truly special and has become one of my favorite artist of all time with the show he put on here in Atlanta. If you ever have a chance to go see him go you won’t be sorry.