“Peace Joe … Your Brother, Jay Electronica”
Jay Electronica wants my dead grandfather’s fake gold ring.
I panic. Electronica believes he is a god. What do you say when a god asks for your one family heirloom, handed down from father to daughter to son?
“If I can have your Puma jumper.”
Electronica is amused. Ah: my relentless, unhealthy arrogance. Here to save the day, and disgrace my family, once again.
Pressured by another inappropriate fan request, Electronica hands me his jumper. I try, driven by half-heartedness and shame, to pull the ring from my right-hand. It’s not working. I pull, he looks. I pull harder, he looks harder. I give up …
He hands me his phone. Jay Electronica wants my number.
Electronica is a genius, and genius need an audience. So, I want to respond, “Brother” (could I initiate our fraternity?) “You are a genius. You can have my number.” To continue the dream-fantasy-sequence, he would quip “thank you, Brother. You are a genius too. Text me. Let’s hang out. We could invite Erykah and Jay Z.”
Unfortunately, Electronica hands me his phone like I’m just anyone from whom he’s trying to acquire an ancestral gift.
I head to the bar, three steps away from the fandom (why stand amongst those I have transcended?) I’m sat down, staring at Electronica’s unlocked iPhone. There are incoming iMessages. One is from Erykah Badu, another god – this time, of RnB. (Badu is the mother of his daughter, Mars, named after – you guessed it – a god.) I self-identify as a hero, and I’m in hysterics, so I don’t read the text. I just add my contact number into his phone – twice – “Joseph Lyons London ring”, “Ring London Joseph Lyons” – the latter contact name is accidentally clever, an instruction exclusively made up of key words. Jay will be proud.
Then I start writing a text from his phone to mine. I don’t want to go up to him in-person and say that I was here to review his show. I don’t want him to know that, because I’m watching him generously greet his fans in a busied bar after a sweat-stained set, I think I can exploit his kindness and secure an interview. (He should want to help an “up and coming” (prideful, private-schooled, and privileged) music journalist, shouldn’t he?) I want our moments together to be authentic. I am, after all, first and foremost, a faithful fan whose life has been changed by his good-godly grace and genius-grade gifts.
I write a draft plea. Just to see what a desperate message would look like.
But then I hesitate. Then I panic.
I press send.
iPhone: “Message not delivered”
Oh, good. Just like I wanted. Our relationship will be more spontaneous now.
I try to send the message again, and again. It doesn’t work.
Electronica pops up from behind my shoulder. I nervously laugh, before he takes my… I mean HIS phone back. He says that he will be in contact. I stand at the bar, holding his jumper. In my post-Electronica moment, I feel it all: anguish, anger, angst. But I only have one concern: this could be ANYONE’S Puma jumper.
I need him to sign it.
Electronica is busy, again. His followers, each one of whom would rather live in a world in which they had once borrowed his iPhone, are begging for his attention – pathetic. They’ve cornered him between his private seating area and the public exit. I agree with myself: I should reacquaint with him as quickly as possible, so he can just-as-quickly sign my… I mean HIS jumper, as he would want to, and leave.
I make a beeline and hit the back of the queue. I have to wait for his attention. I notice a recognisable face; The Bullitts, one of the few artists to ever secure a Jay Electronica feature, is sitting, semi-relaxed, waiting for his friend Jay (aren’t we all?) I would go over, but I’d only ask for an interview and I’ve sworn to only have capital-A authentic friendships with successful hip-hop artists. I get to the front of the line.
“Ah, you, back again”, his silence says. Electronica gestures an attempt to pull off an imaginary ring. He laughs. I faintly put forward his own jumper, defiant about the fact I am not, under this circumstance and most others, giving it back. More than this, I want him to find a pen and use it to sign the jumper and give it back to me. Like a true friend, he agrees.
I walk away, and look down to read:
“Peace Joe …
May Allah Bless You.
Your Brother, Jay Electronica.”