My whole goal is to reintroduce magic to hip-hop,” Jay-Z told a packed house at the New York club The Box on November 13. And with that bold statement came the announcement of the high profile signing of acclaimed New Orleans MC Jay Electronica to the hip-hop mogul’s growing Roc Nation empire. Needless to say, it was a shocking development. For months, Electronica, the highly touted underground lyricist and Erykah Badu’s significant baby daddy, had been connected with music mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs.
Surely a much-rumored move to Diddy’s Bad Boy family was on deck? But there was Electronica onstage with the Jigga Man, proudly throwing up his diamond, joining the likes of fellow buzz-heavy MC J. Cole and kiddie phenom Willow Smith on the roster. “My name is Jay Electronica and my mama is here so you can’t tell me shit,” he proclaimed.
As talk now turns to Electronica finally delivering on his much-anticipated album debut, the impact of the gifted MC’s move to Roc Nation cannot be overstated. VIBE gathered a panel of voices—Pitchfork.com staff writer Ryan Dombal, Billboard associate editor Mariel Concepcion, Allhiphop.com founder Chuck Creekmur and veteran MC and Sirius radio host Monie Love—to weigh in on why the union between Electronica and Jay-Z is so important to the future of hip-hop. Consider it Exhibit A. —Keith Murphy