Common & Jay Electronica Show Some Love at Warehouse Live

Common, Jay Electronica Warehouse Live December 2, 2014

The mystery behind Jay Electronica is that he's a supreme talent, a nomad who for reasons only known to himself is holding fans at bay with an album he promised to deliver five years ago. When you see him flash a gold-tooth grin carrying plates of food backstage at Warehouse Live, there's zero pressure from label executives and fans to deliver Act II: Patents of Nobility. Instead it's just him, appearing like a conduit for higher thought and good old-fashioned Southern-boy charm.

Electronica is the pride of New Orleans; much like Common is one of the prides of Chicago. Both of them on a bill equates to tracks devoid of gimmicks and saccharine. The two of them together on any bill may be a dream for anyone driving a car that spells out "LYRICS SHOULD DOMINATE RAP DISCUSSIONS," and on a damp Tuesday night in Houston, fans got their wish.


Given that both men had about two hours combined to kill onstage, Electronica delivered first. As he marked his territory through old-school, cut-the-beat-and-let-me-rap tactics over a collage of mixtape tracks, there were no Nation of Islam members beside him on this night, just a DJ. He stood triumphant during the opening barrage of his "We Made It Freestyle" and then asked the crowd, "Yo, you heard Jay Z verse on this shit?!"

"We apologize for raising your crime rate," Electronica said in reference to some inhabitants of New Orleans reverting to illicit behavior after being forced to relocate here by Hurricane Katrina. "But you accepted us and we love you."

Love was the main topic of discussion for Electronica: a love for the culture, a love for rhyming and a love he and Common share -- a universally noted adoration for J Dilla, who befriended both men before his untimely passing from lupus nearly a decade ago. Common would share a full-fledged tribute to his fallen friend later in the show with "Rewind That," but more on that later.

The pull with Jay Elect comes from the fact that he still holds the distinction of releasing rap's last perfect single, 2009's "Exhibit C." In a few weeks, five years will have passed since he and Just Blaze flipped Billy Stewart's "Cross My Heart" to declare he officially had next. Following riling up the crowd with "The Announcement" and "Dimethylthryptamine," Electronica opted for bringing the crowd on stage to perform with him.

Visually stunning, watching 40 people leave from the throes of a thousand to join their favorite rapper onstage to perform his most memorable track is a chilling experience. "Exhibit C" is one of rap's last true "Where were you?" moments.

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Brandon Caldwell has been writing about music and news for the Houston Press since 2011. His work has also appeared in Complex, Noisey, the Village Voice & more.
Contact: Brandon Caldwell