A Written Testimony is the long-awaited album between Jay Electronica and Jay-Z
Updated: May 6, 2020
Jay Electronica, a rapper from New Orleans teased and had his fans waiting for his debut for the past decade. When Jay decided to leave New Orleans to go to New York for his hip-hop journey, he received teachings of the Nation of Islam leader, the honorable Elijah Muhammad from the Five-Percent Nation which led Jay to become a member of the NOI. Back to his rapping career, Jay hooked up with producer Just Blaze to work on songs called "Exhibit A" and "Exhibit C". In 2010, Jay Electronica finally signed his first record with Jay-Z's label Roc Nation and he released a couple of songs and he did some collaboration with other artists. This led to many speculations and discussions between fans, will and when Jay Electronica release his first album for about 10-11 years. Some people were fed up and stated that Jay's album is just a myth just like Dr. Dre's Detox. As from March 13th,2020, the wait is finally over and Jay Electronica's album is finally here. The album is called A Written Testimony and it has been dropped under Roc Nation. It features Jay-Z, Travis Scott, James Blaze, and The-Dream. It's written in Arabic on the whole album cover where the writing means on top means, "Jay Electronica" and the bottom, "A Written Testimony."
The album starts the song called "The Overwhelming Event" which is a speech from The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan from his speech "Who Are The Real Children of Israel?" that can be found on YouTube. The next track called "Ghost of Soulja Slim" starts with another speech from Minister Louis Farrakhan and then Jay-Z starts rapping his verse by giving us information about black history in America and remembering the late Soulja Slim who is known for writing the hit single "Slow Motion" by Juvenile. Soulja Slim is from New Orleans just like Jay Electronica who raps the second verse by making references about Islam Culture and Roc Nation. Then we have the song "The Blinding" featuring Travis Scott and what a nice back to back, bar for bar track between Jay Electronica and Jay-Z. Both rappers are going toe to toe with their lyrical skills and metaphor creativity. The instrumental is also amazing, it starts like it was some type of united march with both Jays leading the pack, and after Travis Scott little bridge the beat switches to a more laid-back instrumental. On the track "The Neverending Story" produced by my man The Alchemist and featuring The-Dream, Jay Electronica shows how adequate his pen is then Jay-Z took his pen for the second verse to finalize the song epically. The religious details mixed with both rappers' personal lives and experiences were well put into the song and it shows how good rappers they are, Insha'Allah. "Shiny Suit Theory" is also featuring The-Dream, Jay Electronica who raps in a slow but intelligent way tells his stories that he had with Diddy who believed in his skills and talent, and Puff wanted Jay Electronica to get out of the underground scene to rich the sky. Then we got Jay-Z in the second verse right after Jay Electronica, who in my opinion reminded me of the Reasonable Doubt days just by the way Jay-Z was rapping with a 4:44 state of mind. Yes, Jay-Z's verse was a Reasonable Doubt vibe with a 4:44 state of mind.
At half of the album, we have the song "Universal Soldier" which has a beautiful instrumental and it features James Blake and Travis Scott. The song is followed by "Flux Capacitor" where both rappers delivered great lyrics and content, like Jay-Z who addressed those who think he sold his soul when he's already rich, and Jay Electronica who makes references to Arabic and Islamic culture. Besides the good lyricism in that song, I felt that everything else was just awful. The electronic instrumental was all over the place and it did not match with both rappers' style, and even though the lyrics were good, I felt that both rappers' flow did not go or matched the tempo of the song. My ears got relieved with the one verse song called "Fruits of The Spirit" produced by No I.D. This is the only song that features a solo act from Jay Electronica which makes no sense because this is his album but still. Jay delivered a nice verse with an Avengers reference at the beginning of the song and honestly, this song could have used a second verse with Common on it. The next song is "Ezekiel's Wheel" featuring The-Dream which continues the subject from the introduction of the album about Minister Farrakhan's speech about "Who Are The Real Children of Israel?" and the songs also references The Book of Ezekiel in the Bible. The album finishes with the song "A.P.I.D.T.A." where it seems to be a dedication to the people who both Jay Electronica and Jay-Z lost throughout the years, and A.P.I.D.T.A." is short for "All Praises Is Due To Allah".
After 10 years of waiting for a Jay Electronica album, did the fans got their time worth it after listening to it? My answer will be yes and no. No, because this felt more like a collaborative album between Jay Electronica and Jay-Z which is why I never wrote in the review a song featuring Jay-Z. It's not a bad thing to have one of the greatest rappers in your album but on every song, especially when people have been waiting for your album for a decade. In my opinion, this should have been released as a collab album between the two rappers and it would have teased the fans even more for a solo Jay Electronica album. The reason why I say yes, it's because of the delivery of the album. The subjects and content regarding Islamic culture and how it impacted and still impacts black people. The collaboration between the two Jays was a phenomenal lyrical tag team. I never thought I would see a spiritual rapping Jay-Z and talking about Allah and other references about Islam. I understood where both rappers tried to go with this album, but again as a long-awaited album from Jay Electronica, it would have been better with less Jay-Z and I feel this was more of Jay-Z decision to release a Jay Electronica album. Yet the delivery was good and honestly, I wasn't expecting anything from Jay E. because I never followed dude like that or listened to him a lot before which is why I'm not disappointed about the album and enjoyed it.
Beat Instrumental: 4/5
Album Production: 4/5