Jai Paul just released his debut LP on BandCamp — OR DID HE?? UPDATES!
by Samuel Tolzmann on April 13, 2013
Posted in: Electronic, Music, Pop, R&B / Soul
In 2010, the name Jai Paul was whispered excitedly as the British R&B singer’s only track, “BTSTU,” made the internet rounds. Its walloping synthesizers, cheeky sax, and seasick hip-hop beat were instantly appealing, but the real sell was the way Jai communicated foulmouthed statements of defiance and empowerment (“Don’t fuck with me,” goes the opening lyric) in a sweet, delightfully imperfect falsetto. “BTSTU” topped best-of lists across the blogosphere in 2010 and then again in 2011 when a high(er)-fi edit was released courtesy of elegant British indie label XL. Then we heard nothing from Jai until last year’s “Jasmine,” a darker take on the same electro-soul sound, this time outfitted with funky guitars and a headlong rush of keyboards midway through. As with its predecessor, the song was hard to fault; it seemed Jai Paul had cracked the formula on the perfect pop song. Both tracks are endlessly replayable — on my own iTunes, they’ve got over 300 plays between them, to give you an idea — because their surprises never get old, they nail a sweet spot between danceable and melancholic, and their melodies are just flawless for all the scrappy lo-fi fuzz laid over them. And then? More silence. Little is known about Jai Paul. He doesn’t give interviews or perform live (as far as Google can tell, anyway). He has released no other tracks. XL has little to say about him not already covered in its descriptions of the two tracks themselves. Does Jai Paul even exist? What is he doing with his time? Will there ever be a Jai Paul full-length? Once upon a time, those questions were legitimate, but no longer. That’s right: Gorilla vs. Bear just announced that Jai Paul has an album, and that he just put it on BandCamp. (That’s the cover art above.) So for the love of pop, listen to it! Even though it has no track titles and seems weirdly suspicious.
UPDATE: Jai’s Twitter denies the release’s validity, calls it demos, and blames a hacker. But that Twitter is unverified. XL has released no official statement, but various higher-ups have privately (i.e., not as company mouthpieces) referred to the release as official. Some people claim to have received refunds from BandCamp, but I bought the album and haven’t got one yet so who knows if that’s true. BandCamp is not responding to my emails. No one is responding to my emails. The internet is melting down. Euphoria turned to disaster so quickly. Read this news item on Pitchfork for more.
BUT I JUST WANT TO SAY that even though this album may not be Jai’s intended debut and I may have been robbed of 7 pounds (of flesh), it is also magical and I love it and that’s that.