Jay Electronica’s relationship with his fans is very unorthodox and completely worth it.
My first direct message was from Jay Electronica in 2008, days after Christmas. I had just joined twitter and made the premature decision to follow every rapper on the network and Jay followed me back. Soon after, he sent a direct message—no words, just this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kGPhpvqtOc&feature=related
It was a YouTube link to a music video of “I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins—I’ll leave delving into the implications of this message for my readers.
Later that year, I was unfollowed. But I wasn’t alone. It was “The Great Unfollowing of 2009.” Jay Electronica unfollowed nearly all of his fans, truncating his follower list to less than 200. A year later, high off the heels of announcing his signing to Roc Nation, he followed everyone back—sort of.
In the small hours of Nov. 15, Jay Electronica announced he would follow back anyone who hit him up. And they did. Jay Elect was the proud recipient of over 1500 mentions just an hour after the announcement. He has since followed about 1600 fans, a Dave Chappelle impersonator, Joe Budden, and me.
Jay Elect also opened his AIM and ichat (SN: Jay Electronica) to the masses and encouraged fans to submit their Blackberry chat pins—a common practice for the crescent city emcee.
But is it worth his time? Affording fans access to everything from your AIM screen name and twitter direct messages to your cell phone pin? In a word: yes.
Jay Electronica goes the distance, and his fans take notice. Amidst the flurry of “please follow me” tweets were tales of Jay encounters by super fans.
Katie P. (@KPappsmear), of Los Angeles recalls a few Blackberry messenger conversations last year. While holiday shopping, Jay Elect messaged her about being nervous as he was preparing for a performance.
DJ Critical Hype (@criticalhype) got a few direct messages as well. Despite being an emerging DJ, he kept the conversation fan to artist. Student, Reggie Noble (@kidnoble) did too. He remembers the conversation feeling less like a fan to artist transaction and more like a normal conversation. He was spoken to, “just as a person.”
The most remarkable fan story came from Kevin Cooper (@cooperkm89), perhaps the biggest Jay Electronica fan on twitter.
Cooper has a Jay Electronica shirt he likes to wear to shows. Inscribed on it the infamous line from “Exhibit C”— “Call me Jay Elec-Hannukah / Jay Elec-Yarmulke…”— but more on that later.
At Cooper’s fourth Jay show, the New Orleans rapper pulled him and a crowd of fans onto the stage while opening for Kid Cudi in October at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign).
“At one point during the show, Jay got back on stage and turned to me; And we proceeded to rap over his songs, face-to-face in center stage,” said Cooper chronicling his account.
“He was acknowledging that I knew all his sh*t, and that acknowledgment was much appreciated.“
But that wasn’t all. To security’s chagrin, Jay snuck Cooper backstage. No weed, no liquor, just talk. About music—fellow opener Chip the Rip and headliner Kid Cudi (whom Jay Elect had never met at the time). They even watched Cudi’s set together. Jay was intrigued by Cudi’s command of the crowd.
They soon after parted ways. Cooper could’ve joined Jay’s entourage for the night, but in fear of being a burden or exhibiting utter and complete stannery—he passed.
“I shook Jay’s hand, said great show once again. He asked, ‘Did you have a good time?’ To which I replied ‘Oh yeah!’ Or something else equally dull but spurred on by an awed star-struck state that had not yet dissipated,” said Cooper.
But wait, there’s more. Remember when Jay Electronica punched a concertgoer at a Disco Biscuits show in Chicago? Cooper does. And yes, he was wearing that shirt.
After what Cooper says were pleas by Jay to stop fans from throwing items at him, he punched a DB fan after being hit with a beer bottle. Everyone in the venue had turned against Jay Electronica.
Subsequently, Jay Elect spent the rest of his set rapping to a handful of his fans in the crowd. He even jumped passed the barricade for a proper introduction. And when it came time to perform “Exhibit C,” our boy Cooper was a star.
“He pointed directly at me and did the verse on my shirt,” said Cooper. “Basically reading the verse off of my shirt, so as to draw attention to it.”
“That was really cool of him to do.”
And on Nov. 15, Cooper got a follow.
Jay Electronica doesn’t have fans, but brand evangelists. He breeds them. It’s not enough to make music people enjoy. Artists who take the time to develop a relationship with listeners build a stronger fan base.
For a previously unsigned artist with a few sporadic releases, his following is remarkably strong. In the wake of Jay Electronica’s Roc Nation announcement, he gained about 3k followers and an additional 3k after tweeting about his following spree—he previously averaged a 450 daily follower gain and currently has a total of over 128k followers.
Prior to joining Roc Nation, Jay Electronica had garnered a magazine cover, a track ranked amongst iTunes’ top 10 selling hip-hop music downloads and “the most buzz worthy artist” title by numerous media outlets—success unprecedented by an artist with no formal projects released or a record deal.
There aren’t too many artists who really engage on Twitter but artists like Jay Electronica prove that tactics that bring music back to the fans yield results. At a time where the record industry is in a severe decline, new strategy is crucial to its turnaround—just ask Cooper.
“I still get excited thinking about it,” Cooper says. “I’ve seen Jay four times now, and I’ve learned that if you show your appreciation, he will acknowledge you and be grateful.”
“Yep. Jay Elect reigns supreme…over everything.”
This post was republished from social media and hip-hop blog, BornIn88.com, courtesy of the author.
This entry was posted on Monday, April 4th, 2011 at 1:33 pm and is filed under Features, Music and tagged with born in 88, disco biscuits, facebook, jay electronica, jay-z, kid cudi, roc nation, social media, twitter. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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