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Jay Electronica is off the artistic roll call

I guess Jay Electronica’s handlers didn’t want 2010 to come to an end with me thinking his deal with Roc Nation would work out well.

One of the other things I saw, when I briefly took to the Internets over winter break to check out Tumblr pr0n (which knows no such thing as winter break) and make sure no famous people had died, is this commercial Jay Electronica where he kicked one of those rhymes he dropped back when it was announced that he was signing to Roc Nation, then took a sip from a can of Mountain Dew (not even the real Mountain Dew, that makes your peen shrink, that nasty red shit that people who play Everquest drink), label facing outward, Real World-style, in case it wasn’t already cleat that this is a goddamn Mountain Dew commercial.

It was some sad shit to watch. I saw on Twitter where Noz was all upset. (Not that he’s ever not upset.) Normally, I’d take this as an opportunity to see if I could make him even more upset, for my own personal amusement (nullus), but in this case, I’m even gonna have to go so far as to agree with the late, great Noz. Bill Hicks, who’s actually dead, was right: You do a commercial, you’re off the artistic roll call. And that goes for everyone except Willie Nelson, who somehow managed to go in debt to the IRS to the tune of $30 million in 1990 money. Which must be like a billion dollars today. He pretty much didn’t have any choice in the matter.

You know, it’s funny, I grew up on Bill Hicks’ bit about Willie Nelson being in debt to the IRS up to his bloodshot eyeballs, and doing a commercial for Taco Bell (owned by the same TIs as Mountain Dew, oddly enough) being the equivalent of letting Satan (still essentially another guy) fuck you in the ass, but it wasn’t until fairly recently that I saw the actual commercial Willie Nelson did for Taco Bell, on YouTube. It really is as sad as Hicks described it, despite the fact that the lyrics aren’t really about taking Satan’s scaly pecker up the coat. But they really are about tacos – or whatever taco variant Taco Bell was pushing at the time.

(Pro Tip: If you notice, there’s like a million things on the menu at Taco Bell, but most of them, except for those cinnamon sticks, are all slight variations on the same shit that they use to make the tacos. But for whatever, some shit costs way more than its equivalent in tacos. For example, a Nachos Bell Grande costs about as much as four tacos, maybe even more than that. Do you actually get four tacos worth of meat? Hell no. You probably don’t even get two tacos worth of meat. And that fake nacho cheese dip they use probably costs less than the real (-ish) they put on the tacos.)

From the one time I listened to it, I don’t recall there being any mention of the cool, refreshing (penis-shrinking [||}) flavor of Mountain Dew in the verse Jay Electronica kicked in that commercial. But that’s about the best thing you can say about it. And that’s to be expected anyway, in this day and age of refined marketing techniques. This is not 1990. The TIs know better than to have artists singing songs about the products they’re shilling for. If it had been a more notable artist, the placement of the can probably wouldn’t have been as obvious. As far back as when I was in college (way back in the dark ages), companies were already up on the trick of promoting events where the corporate sponsorship was hardly evident.

The fact that the first thing to come from Jay Electronica post- his signing to Roc Nation was a Mountain Dew commercial, rather than, say, a single or a tour, and the way he held the can up for the camera, like Billy Dee Williams circa 1979, leads me to believe that his deal with Roc Nation is one of these deals where they sign him up for a shedload of corporate sponsorship and then take the lion’s share of the proceeds. I knew that was going to be the case with the tour anyway, because the company that really owns Roc Nation is a concert promoter, but I guess they figured Jay Electronica wasn’t enough of a draw to justify signing him as a traditional recording artist, which is to say an actual artist. If Jay Electronica goes out on tour opening for Jay-Z, it’s not like anyone would be there to see Jay Electronica. They could just as easily have me open, reading from some of my posts from this site, like Robert De Niro in Raging Bull, sad distended gut and everything.

It makes you wonder if Jay Electronica was aware of what kind of deal he was signing back when he signed to Roc Nation. Do we know for a fact that he can read? He talks funny, and not just in the way that all rappers talk funny, peppering their speech with the phrase “know what I’m saying” like it’s going out of style. And we know for a fact that he used to be homeless. I’m sure a lot of homeless people struggle with reading, and that’s part of the reason why they’re homeless in the first place. To think, back when Jay Electronica was sleeping out on Meserole Ave in the rain, there could have been a building across the street with a sign on it that said free warm, dry beds for crazy homeless people, and he wouldn’t have known.

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