Have a think back to hip hop in 2009. We had Eminem flushing out the drugs in his system with Relapse, Jay-Z had just dropped his biggest global album to date, Kanye was fresh off making a huge pivot in his recording career with 808s & Heartbreak.
Lil Wayne was getting ready to hand over the torch to his Young Money proteges, Drake and Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross continued to put dope music in the face of his beef with 50 Cent, Gucci Mane was starting to make some noise on the charts. Overall, the culture was still trying to figure itself out in this internet age.
While all this was happening, no one could have predicted that one of the best songs of the year would come from a New Orleans rapper who was made his way around the country connecting with the likes of hip hop luminaries like J Dilla and Just Blaze.
Released independently on December 22, 2009, “Exhibit C” struck a match in the underground like no other hip hop record did that year, and made every rap fan and music industry insider take notice. It was 5-minutes of Jay Electronica straight spitting with no hook, over incredible production, courtesy of Just Blaze who sampled Billy Stewart’s “Cross My Heart” for the track.
Straight after the track dropped, it garnered heavy spins on major radio stations like Hot 97, and was a big record online as well. Major hip hop legends like Nas, Puffy, Q-Tip, Mos Def came out to bless Jay Electronica, calling him a breath of fresh air in the current hip hop landscape.
In an interview with MTV a few months after “Exhibit C” dropped, Jay revealed that he and Just spent 15 minutes cooking up the song, with the purpose of getting it played on Angela Yee’s Sirius Satellite radio show, where they were scheduled to appear on.
Jay Electronica: We never went on the show. We fell asleep in the studio. I forgot the song existed. I didn’t hear it again until I heard it on Tony Touch’s [satellite radio show]. I was mad. Even when he played it on the show, he said, ‘I’m gonna get in trouble for doing that.’ The next day [the song] was all over the Net and people were asking for the CD-quality version. It grew legs on its own. It’s amazing to see. It grew its own legs. To see it walk all the way to mainstream commercial radio is a helluva magic trick. It’s almost like it’s an entity of its own.Jay Electronica Says ‘My Dreams Are Coming True’ | MTV