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One of the most talked-about rappers of 2008, Jay Electronica built his reputation via the Internet and word of mouth, without so much as a single commercial release to his credit. Born Je'Ri Allah in 1976, he grew up in the Magnolia projects of New Orleans, where he lived until age 19. In the years that followed, he lived a nomadic lifestyle, moving back and forth between Atlanta, New York, Detroit, and Baltimore, among other cities. He adopted the Jay Electronica alias while living in Baltimore circa 2000. While in Detroit, he befriended associates of J Dilla, working closely with engineer Mike "Chav" Chavarria and collaborating with producer Denaun Porter (aka Mr. Porter). As a rapper, he distributed his recordings via the Internet, primarily his MySpace page. Among these Internet-circulated recordings, a few stood out and helped create a buzz: "Act 1," an epic homemade rap over Jon Brion's score for the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; "Bitches and Drugs," a J Dilla production; "Extra Extra," a Madlib production; and the StyleWars EP. The word of mouth didn't hurt, either, as Erykah Badu, Just Blaze, Nas, and others spoke highly of Jay Electronica in the media. Moreover, Badu reportedly made him the first signee of her Control FreaQ Records label.
Timothy Elpadaro Thedford (born September 19, 1976), better known by his stage name Jay Electronica, is an American hip hop recording artist, and record producer, currently based in London, United Kingdom. Jay Electronica first gained significant attention after the release of the musical composition Act I: Eternal Sunshine (the pledge), made available on a MySpace page in 2007. It is fifteen continuous minutes of music, without drums, built from Jon Brion's soundtrack to the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In late 2009 he released two songs, both produced by Just Blaze, "Exhibit A (Transformations)" and "Exhibit C" the latter of which won a Sucker Free Summit Award for Instant Classic. On November 12, 2010, it was announced Jay Electronica had become an official member of Jay-Z's Roc Nation record label.
1976–2006: Early life and career beginnings 
Thedford was born on September 19, 1976, in the Magnolia Projects of New Orleans, a place where the crime rate was infamous throughout the country before 2005, when the projects were flooded during Hurricane Katrina. Thedford began rapping after hearing his nephew Akeem Pryor rhyme. By the age of 19 Jay Electronica left New Orleans to pursue his musical career. Living a mostly nomadic lifestyle, he found refuge in cities such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, Detroit, New York, and briefly in Atlanta. From club to club, and stage to stage, Electronica had gotten booed off and denied because of his Southern accent and slang. "In my earlier years from when I first left home, I was embarrassed from being from the South," Thedford stated. "Not in general, but as a rapper because all of the negative things that people in the States put on the South." Electronica’s career really took form in the city of Detroit when he linked up with Detroit native Johnnie Last, a friend he had spent a lot of time with at Darp Studios in Atlanta, GA. In Detroit, Electronica met producer/engineer Mike "Chav" Chavarria, now a regular collaborator, who introduced him to both J. Dilla and Mr. Porter. It is here that he recorded his Style Wars-era music with several J. Dilla beats, meeting the producer subsequently to ask for permission to use the recordings as a demo.
2007–2010: Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge) and signing with Roc Nation 
Jay Electronica first gained significant attention through Act 1: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge), made available on a MySpace page in 2007. It is fifteen continuous minutes of music, without drums, built from Jon Brion's soundtrack to the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. There are five segments or movements marked by changes in music and mood, raps by Electronica, and occasional snippets of sampled dialogue including scenes from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. The first segment is a spoken word piece by Just Blaze and Erykah Badu describing Electronica over piano music.
The nature of the piece of music, along with the nature of its appearance, led to a slow build-up of interest in Electronica as an enigmatic figure. Songs circulating online as the Style Wars EP gained wider circulation, and other songs, such as the dream-inspired "Dimethyltryptamine", soon appeared. In January 2008, Giles Peterson's 90-minute Gilles Peterson Worldwide was devoted to the rapper. Hiphopdx.com in 2008 called him "arguably...the most talked about new emcee last year ... at times...more like a myth or urban legend than an actual rapper", and URB ran a cover story on the artist under the banner "Jay Electronica: A Spotless Mind :: An MC’s mystery revealed", which referred to his wanderings as his being "like some sort of hip-hop Jack Kerouac".
Jeff Weiss' piece for the L.A. Weekly, "Jay Electronica: Much Better Than His Name Would Suggest", acknowledged that the rapper could be fairly described as "one of the most buzzed about rappers of 2008", but attempted to temper the hype somewhat, describing Act 1... as "ambitious, wildly original, if not slightly pretentious", while endorsing only to an extent the comparisons URB had made (referencing an "abstract rhyming style") to rappers like Nas and Pharoahe Monch.
2010–present: Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn) 
Jay Electronica has yet to release a full-length album, but he has released two official singles to date, "Exhibit A" and "Exhibit C", which won a Sucker Free Summit Award for Instant Classic. His music so far has been made available through the internet, either through being leaked to what URB magazine describes as "obscure web forums", or through an appearing and disappearing Myspace page (currently two seem to be in existence, at /jayelect and at /jayelectronica). Erykah Badu has questioned whether he ever will release, in her words, "actual albums". From New Orleans, LA he has lived in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Denver, and Detroit, where he recorded his Style Wars-era music with several J Dilla beats, meeting the producer subsequently to ask for permission to use the recordings as a demo. Jay met producer/engineer Mike "Chav" Chavarria in Detroit, the latter introducing him to both J Dilla and Mr. Porter, and who is now a regular collaborator.
According to URB, Act II: Patents of Nobility will feature Nas, and will be the second of a putative trilogy. URB also reported that digital EPs with both Guilty Simpson and producer 9th Wonder were planned. According to a Filter TV interview, Jay Electronica has partnered with Decon to release his debut project. It is being described as a multi-media release and footage from the project which was partially shot in Nepal and Dubai has begun to surface online. The first clip to leak is titled "Dear Moleskine" and can be found on YouTube, the track was produced by Just Blaze and the clip was directed by Jason Goldwatch from Decon. In June 2009, Decon and Jay's "The Dogon Society" released "Exhibit A" digitally. "Exhibit C" was released on iTunes December 16, 2009 and quickly shot to the top 10 of the iTunes Hip-Hop charts. The following week it was chosen by Hot 97's Dj Enuff as the Heavy Hitter pick of the week.
Jay Electronica appeared at the 2010 Bonnaroo Music Festival. Jay Electronica continued his scattered release practice, releasing "A Million in the Morning" on April 4, 2010. The song features a weary Electronica trying to keep himself awake to escape his nightmares. On April 30, Jay Electronica debuted "The Ghost of Christopher Wallace" via his Twitter. The song features P Diddy and is produced by London beatsmith Quincey Tones, who is known for producing such acts as Young Jeezy and Royce da 5'9".
On November 12, 2010, Jay-Z announced that Jay Electronica was officially the newest member of his own 'Roc Nation' record label/management company, which boasts such acts as J. Cole, and Willow Smith. Before signing to Roc Nation in 2010, Jay Electronica was a prospective signee of Bad Boy Records, a label owned by producer/rapper/entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs.
In late 2010, he and Lucy Liu were featured on The Bullitts' track "Close Your Eyes". It was BBC Radio 1 DJ Zane Lowe's 'record of the week' and will feature on The Bullitts upcoming album set for release in 2011. Then in July 2011, he produced and was featured on the track "Run & Hide", which will be on the same album.
In July 2011, Jay Electronica posted via his Twitter that his debut album, Act II: Patents of Nobility (The Turn), was complete. On October 10, 2011, Jay Electronica released the song "Call of Duty" featuring Prodigy from Mobb Deep. He stated that this single would not be on his album. On March 8, 2012, Jay Electronica tweeted that the album is complete and will be turned in to Roc Nation
Personal life 
Jay Electronica and Erykah Badu have one child together, Mars Merkaba Thedford, born on February 1, 2009. On June 2, 2012, it was revealed that Electronica had been having a "passionate" affair with Ben Goldsmith's music producer wife, Kate Rothschild, for a year. On discovering texts between Rothschild, with whom he has three children and had been with for eleven years, and Electronica, Goldsmith announced that he would be filing for divorce on the grounds of adultery. Electronica is a member of the Five Percent Nation.