For a lot of us out there the following scenario is a fact of life. You grow up in a nice and quiet neighborhood with loving parents. You do some boozing in high school and almost knock up the prom queen. After that, you finish a study you don’t really appreciate, and bang some campus girls in the process who DO know about contraceptives. You do some more booze, sniff some coke, and end up with a school debt at a job where everybody ‘treats you like a number.’
As clichÃ© as it may sound, but this is (mostly) what Jay Eff Kay’s life looked like before he decided he wanted to be an MC. According to an interview, published on the weblog Hip Hop Politics, Jay grew up in suburban Boston Hyde Park, wanted to be a politician when he was in high school, wrote rhymes as a hobby during lunch breaks, and landed the same job most of us simpletons end up at. On his debut album, the song “If You Think I’m Working For Your Company Then You’re Fucked” probably was his resignation letter:
“I’m going to have the boss to bash his skull in
And leave him on the floor half in convulsions
He’s just some dick who makes inapt decisions
Got his exec. position because of nepotism
Know what I put in his Dr. Pepper schism?
Now I’ll e-mail the customer list
With a picture of a shemale thrusting a fist
It’s a herself, himself, up to the wrist
That’s what they got for meddling
When I’m busy embezzling”
Jay Eff Kay does not stop at criticizing the US corporate world. Over a mixture of crunk-esque beats, Miami bass, and a track that resembles a recycled song of twinkle toes Usher (2005), Kay paints a highly ironical picture of most facets of life in his home country. Titles like “Essay: Religion,” “College, Try It,” “Bomb the Hamptons,” and “´Trina” make abundantly clear that Jay Eff Kay is not happy with the course the USS America has set out to sail.
My biggest problem with this New York-based MC has nothing to do with his style of rhyming. His drawling, skinny man´s voice is, at times, highly enjoyable to listen to. Especially the satirical undertone he drenches most of his lyrics in adds to the value of his lyrics. What bugs me about Jay Eff Kay is his talent for scratching the surface of complex political, cultural and educational problems without ever succeeding in striking the heart of one single matter. It´s like listening to a radio station that is in between frequencies, and is playing a news bulletin and some second rate comedy show at the same time.
Back to the Hip Hop Politics interview. Jay exclaims: “Online, I get all my political news rawdog from CNN.com (which I consider the most objective of the news network’s websites..though certainly it’s not entirely objective).” In just one sentence, this rapper manages to contradict himself, and that is isn´t very good for the satirical value of his lyrics. If you´re not even sure the information you are getting is trustworthy, how can you be able to make a mockery of it?
An artist that quits his day job because he is dissatisfied with the system he is living in, and who gets his information like that? Immortal Technique would have had him keelhauled if he found out about such an ill informed colleague. Jay Eff Kay would be quite surprised if that happened to him. Again, I quote from the Hip Hop Politics blog: “I don’t listen to any “underground” rap really. Cream rises to the top, and there’s a reason most underground rappers stay underground. I trust Kay Slay and them to sort through the underground and tell me who’s worth listening to.”
This review shouldn´t be about the way Jay Eff Kay browses the news, but about his music. Since he profiles himself as a highly involved political rapper it becomes sheer unavoidable to talk about just that. It is still unclear why he named himself after the legendary president who never made it to Oz, but there must be a certain connection to his identity as an MC.
On the song “Bomb the Hamptons” Kay rubs off on the world the leading mistress of the original JFK spent most of her short years in. In a tirade against Hollywood, Jay Eff Kay venomously spits:
“We got a smart bomb down the chimney
And up the ass of Oprah Winfrey
A load on Britney, and the baby she is carrying
Pop! sock the bullet wounds
Hit like a Caesarean”
Somehow I get the feeling this musician is not enraged by the world he is living in, but just sulky and envious of the world he is NOT living in. On the surface, Jay Eff Kay wants to portray himself as a socially engaged MC, but on the inside there is a little H.R.Giger/Hollywood monster waiting to show its ugly face. With his contradicting messages and shallow contemplations of modern society he might as well be the politician he wanted to be in his high school years. They, at least, can show their ugly face in public without being afraid of getting judged by it.