After performing at the manifesto festival in Toronto last Sunday, Jay E spoke to Much Music about the recent accusations that he jacked some other Hip Hop artist named Carter Whitelow’s rhymes and has been presenting them as his own. You can find the letter from the artist containing the accusations that has been floating around the internet after the jump.
September 19, 2010
Voir Dire Enlightenment Project LLC
Richmond, VA 23236
To Whom It May Concern,
If you have taken time out of your lives for this letter, you love hip hop. In the best interests of all hip hop consumers and connoisseurs, I have decided to come forward and admit that I wrote songs that have been used by Jay Electronica.
This situation is hard for me to speak about because this was my life. As a writer, you always strive to put every piece of your soul into your work, and I strive to achieve that with every work I create. However, I am a Hip Hop fan first and foremost. I dreamed of a day where the nature of hip hop would revert back to the moments where an emcee is an artist and not a commodity. My original works were to be a testament to every kid that was dealing with drugs, loss, and an unfortunate situation. Unfortunately, my message has been skewed over the past several years. This was the last time I could stand aside and let fans of my craft be dissapointed for no apparent reason. Let me first detail how Act II, or what Jay Electronica and the blogosphere call Act I, came to existence.
When I was a senior in high school in 2002, I started writing a full length novel called Act I. It is a memoir detailing my life at the time; partying, weed smoking, all of the things that wayward kids do. It was my plan to release the book in a double book format, along with a poetry/rhyme book. The poetry book was called Act II: The Life and Times of Carter Whitelow. In this book, I detailed my alter ego, called Trademark Legacy, aka the Black Adam. During the years of 2002-2006, I continued to hone my craft and finish both handwritten documents. My plan was to have the books published, however something called me to rap.
I attended George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia from 2002-2005 off and on. I just knew that the things I was writing would make me famous. You know when you have something that is just undeniable. It was like the words were just falling out of my pen. In full disclosure, I was in the deep throws of several addictions, including xanax, weed, codeine, X. Just a recipe for death really. I was heavily influenced by Eminem at the time, and I was watching a Behind the Music on him one night. A music critic said that the one thing that set Eminem apart was his use of syllables and rhyme structure. The entire piece was meant to recreate the syllable, rhyme structure and cadence of an Eminem album. I studied all of his songs, as well as Pac, Rakim, Jay-Z, Pharoahe Monch, Talib Kweli, and Nas. I would stay up all night, trying to figure out why they said things where they said them, and how I could frame my story in a similar manner. I wanted to be a hybrid of all the great rappers of the time. The heartbreak of the recent death of my father, as well as a failed relationship led me to create what was called Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
I started Eternal Sunshine in 2004, during the first wave of the crunk-downsouth revival. It was a song that was meant for people to use to cope with the struggles of anything you were going through in life. Just erase your mind. The original premise of the first verse was supposed to be a message to my ex girlfriend at the time. Hence the line “She said she never fell in love with a superman”. I referenced the Eminem song here due to her admiration of the song. The rest of the song was coming together like a novel of my mind at the time. I was a Catholic that had lost faith, studying buddhism, islam, and hinduism. I would keep references from these religions near me, and literally look at the works, and make a rhyme. This was the entire strategy that I would attack songs with early on. I would say a couple of lines about my personal experiences, and spit some religion. If you read the second stanza of Eternal, I detail my personal struggle to overcome the pain of my ex girlfriend. All of these songs were crafted in the Metro station in Suitland, Maryland through D.C., to Fairfax, Virginia. This is also why the majority of the songs that I wrote contained a reference to trains. I would have to hop the gates to get in and out just to get where I needed to go. “if my skull was cracked, and blood ran down to the culdesac, that could not match me where im at/ my memories flash me there and back” was a direct reference to when I lived in a cul de sac and I gushed my head open as a child. You get the picture. I could go on all day about the nuts and bolts of every lyric I wrote, I’ll get to how I BELIEVE Jay Electronica acquired my lyrics.
I have been advised by legal council not to divulge individuals names that are not of public domain. For that reason, I will call this person John Finate. I met John Finate during my first year at George Mason. I knew this kid was rich and had connections, but I didnt know he loved hip hop. We would hang out and make beats on his MPC-4000, smoke a little and chill, you know. I would carry my books with me like a nomad, and anything that I saw, I would write about it. We would always go from D.C. up 95 to New Jersey, where his family stayed. He would always tell me, “Man, when we go up here, were goin to RocaFella, Def Jam, all of that”. I thinkin that this white kid must be crazy. What I came to realize is that we dont see the real mechanics of the industry from the sideline. This kid was connected through a major electronic company. John and I were initially trying to shop beats, like the broke mans Neptunes. We made some quick sloppies and were trying to get our foot in the door. In the back of my mind im thinking we will get kicked out like DJ Jazzy Jeff on Fresh Prince. John says his name at the desk and in no time we went straight up to the Def Jam Office. They were still changing over from the RocaFella acquisition so there was more ROC than anything up there. I was starstruck, walking around rubbing shoulders with Biggs, it was crazy. We meet an A&R who no longer is employed with Def Jam, and John and I give him our CD. He gives us the obligatory, “Oh yeah yall are just here cause your somebody’s kid” look, grabs it and moves on. Im thinking we finally made it, when he probably just waited until we walked out and trashed it. Regardless, we carried on like we were gonna start a Production unit. I kept writing, assuming that the in-road I just made would lead to something. As most artist soon realize in the industry, just because you know someone does not mean you are ‘A Go’.
Off and on for three years John and I went up to New York, sometimes to chill, sometimes to work. In January 2006, I left George Mason and I left my book with John, telling him to shop it for me when he went back up north. I moved to Richmond, VA, and he promised me he would ‘look out’. That was the end of the book as I knew it, and the beginning of where we are now.
For four years, I just forgot about rapping and writing. I really truly felt that if I couldnt make it, then I didnt want to do it anymore. I just listened to old Reflection Eternal, Pac, Jay Z, so on and so forth. I just listened to enough new rap to get me through the club nights. I found myself listening to garbage just to stay culturally relevant. I started school at VCU, got clean from the pills and concentrated on actually getting my degree. Throughout this entire period, my brother Taylor was heavy into the blogs and hip hop news sites. He kept telling me, “Yo, listen to this Jay Electronica *****, man hes the realist.” As a hip hop fan, I couldnt tell you how many times Ive heard this rapper or that rapper was hot, so I just brushed it off. He wasnt on the radio for the hour I listened to it, so I didnt care. Finally, on January 19, 2010, I was outside doing yardwork and we were listening to Wiz. He says, “Man, Wiz is hot, but that ***** Jay Electronica is like top five in the game.” I finally buckled and went to Vuze and downloaded his catalogue.
The first thing I initially noticed was that Jay Electronica’s song titles were eerily similar to the ones I wrote about. You know how you get this feeling when you meet someone again after a long period of time. You know you know them. I was reading the thread and song titles on what he called ACT:I, and I am shaking my head thinking I must be crazy. I just downloaded it along with some mixtapes, and went to work. I thought it was weird that some random cat was thinking the same way I was thinking, and I was hyped. I was so ready to hear some real hip hop for a change. I got home that night, plugged my headphones in, and started vibing. The first song I heard was ‘Extra Extra’. Mind you the title is THE EXACT SAME as it was in the book. I crank it and Im bobbing my head just chilling, listening to the beat a little. Then I start hearing the words and I couldnt believe what I was hearing. This dude is rapping about the same things, in the same cadence and structure that I used to. When I listen to mixtapes, I give it that obligatory minute, then I move on to the next song. I brushed it off, got halfway through the song and moved on. The next thing I heard was Uzi Weighs a Ton. I listened closely for 15 seconds to the lyrics, and I was picking up on what he was saying before he said it. I sat up in my bed, and I was looking around like someone had died. This man got one of my songs. Or so I thought.
I looked at my iPhone and I was stunned. I skipped to the song Girlfriend…I heard one 8 and I took off my headphones and screamed. Theres another one. By this time Im half hyped, and half panicked. Im happy to hear my songs, I couldnt believe it. On the other hand Im trying to figure out how this even happened. I look back at all of my files, I see all of my books that I have from that era, but not ACT II. I knew at that precise moment what had happened, I got ‘got’. I went online and started researching who Jay Electronica was. I noticed that he was affiliated with a producer that John had been in contact with. I was stunned to think that someone really made it in the industry with my rhymes, and that someone would actually use my personal experiences. I looked at the lyrics on a message board, and it was confirmed. I am Jay Electronica.
The first person I called was John, who is now a UAE/ USA party promoter. I call him and ask him if he knows anything about Jay Electronica. He lives in New York, was deep in the game, and said “I dont even know who Jay Electronica is…” My mind went from ‘This a mistake’ to ‘OK, I see whats going on’. I told John to get in contact with his old connects, and tell them to contact me. I also contacted Jay Electronica the only way I knew how; through Twitter. I wanted to reach out and complete the project that everyone wanted. ‘Act II’, I read, was supposed to come out in 2008 or 2009. I found out in January 2010, and for a solid month I reach out through every channel I know how. I tried contacting all of the people affiliated with him, to no avail. I read that he was doing legitimate shows, making money off of it for several years. Honestly I was mad and frustrated. I cant even finish the job that I wanted to do, and this guy is ruining everything I was trying to create. His buzz was dying and all I could do is sit back and watch him squander my vision. On the 22nd of January, I sent a direct message to Jay Electronica, urging his representation to meet with me. No discussion. The only problem is that I duplicate songs in several books, some of which contain songs that are in ‘ACT II the book’. My legal council told me that now he cant release a song from that book, or he will take a chance that the song he chooses will be one I have. Thats why, since early this year in my opinion, you havent heard anything that resembles the Jay Electronica you thought you knew.
I have not accused anyone of any malice, I am just stating what I know to be a fact. I cannot tell you how Jay Electronica acquired my book. I can tell you that he did have the book, and I can also tell you that I have songs in that book that have yet to be released.
In closing, I would like to say that you, the reader, dont have to believe this. You can go on believing that this album will one day happen. Maybe now it will. You can have your theories and ideas as to why this is occuring. But I promise you, it wont be from the same person that wrote the Eternal Sunshine. I hope you understand why I had to come forward at this stage, and I wish Jay Electronica the best in his career.
Enclosed is a link to the follow up to what I have written before. Link To BASE B.A.S.E. is the natural progression, lyrically, of what you have heard in the past. Listen to my rhyme structure and compare the new 2010 Jay Electronica with B.A.S.E. Then go back and listen to Act I and tell me what you think. I will not stand back and let real hip hop die. Open your mind and listen. Take The Oath.
Voir Dire Enlightenment Project LLC