It’s a good sign for an artist when two of their songs in the space of five years catapult them into the upper echelon of anticipated work.
For Jai Paul, the British producer/crooner/enigma those two tracks were “BTSTU,” in 2007 and “Jasmine” in 2012. The performer gained so much buzz that Paul was signed to XL Recordings shortly thereafter, the label home to Adele, Vampire Weekend, and Radiohead, among others.
Junior Amelia Tupou said, “I first heard Jai Paul on ‘Jasmine’ and I was immediately a fan, there’s not really much out there like him.”
Sophomore Amanda Breslauer said, “I really had no idea who Jai Paul was but I had heard ‘Jasmine’ a lot before and always loved it, I actually like his other stuff now that I know who he is.”
So when a Bandcamp account, that was from all appearances legitimate, released a 16-track album titled Jai Paul, complete with a pen-and-pixel album cover replete with star-scapes, foxes, Watford FC players, and Paul himself, the internet was thrown for a loop.
The material was undoubtedly new, the mysterious producer had only ever released two tracks previously, and more compelling was the quality of said tracks.
“Genevieve,” a pulsing, shuffling number with flanged out guitars melting into fat synth lines sees Paul crooning over lost love, and doing what he does best: taking disparate elements and cramming them into an intricate, funked-out slice of electro-pop that is unlike anything else.
“100,000,” sees more of Paul than most tracks, his voice usually a careful falsetto above the pounding low end and tripped out synthesizers and guitars. The chorus worms into your head as Paul waxes lyrical about his sense of isolation and distance; “A hundred thousand light years away.”
In a show of good taste, Jai covers English-American singer Jennifer Paige’s 1998 hit “Crush!” A funked-out, lo-fi flip, the arrangement is completely unrecognizable, and Paul’s gentle vocals only further stamp the Jai Paul aesthetic into yet another impressive show of skill from the producer.
Junior Pasha Minkovsky said, “I first heard Jai Paul when Drake rapped over ‘BTSTU,’ and I searched for the original and I was pleasantly surprised.”
So, positive was the reaction to this album/mixtape/mystery body of work that it was a bittersweet realization when Paul tweeted that the release was a leak; his laptop had been stolen and the thief had released the material without the knowledge of Paul and XL.
On one hand, the alleged thief had profited at the expense of Paul and XL Recordings, however fans have been salivating over an album for the best part of five years, and to the delight of those kept waiting, the material lived up to the ridiculously high standards set by “BTSTU” and “Jasmine.”
Ultimately, fans are just happy to finally hear something new from Jai Paul. Hopefully this event will spur him on to release a “true” debut album and reward the patient fans who have thus far stuck with his painfully slow rate of release.