The first verse we hear on Jay Electronica’s A Written Testimony comes from JAY-Z. The God MC opens “Ghost of Soulja Slim,” the second track on the album, which follows an intro comprising mostly remarks from Minister Louis Farrakhan-adding an extra four minutes to the decade-plus many fans have waited to hear Jay Electronica rap on his debut album. Having Jigga bat leadoff registers as much less of a stunt in the context of the full project, and only helps build the anticipation.
JAY-Z appears on nearly every song on A Written Testimony, assuming a partner-in-rhyme role not unlike the one Ghostface Killah played on Raekwon’s seminal Only Built 4 Cuban Linx. The Jays sound likewise inspired by each other, yielding the mic for continuous intervals of elite-level MCing, delivering bars both forthright and poetic, and also steeped in phrasings uncommon outside of the written word. “If you want to be a master in life, you must submit to a master/I was born to lock horns with the Devil at the brink of the hereafter,” Electronica raps on “The Neverending Story.”
Electronica is credited with the bulk of production on the album, with additional contributions from No I.D. and The Alchemist, along with the all-star team (Swizz Beatz, Araabmuzik, Hit-Boy, G. Ry) responsible for “The Blinding.” The MC raps in Spanish on “Fruits of the Spirit,” and though he shouts out Vince Staples, Marvel villain Thanos, and cosmetic butt injections, there are very few references on A Written Testimony that could date the album long-term. The goal here was very clearly to make a timeless project, one we should appreciate considering there’s no telling if or when we will get another.