1. Jay Electronica "Exhibit C" (2009)
Yes, that's right, the most lyrical song of the last five years was (supposedly) made in 15 minutes just so Jay Electronica and Just Blaze would have something to debut when they went on Angela Yee's show. Funniest thing is, they never made it to Yee's show. Instead, Jay fell asleep and forgot all about it. That is, until Just Blaze played it on Tony Touch's radio show.
The original radio rip of "Exhibit C" was laced with Mr. Magic's classic radio drops (He passed away shortly before the song's release.), giving it the vintage feel of a cassette tape of a radio recording. The song grew legs, took off, and was eventually released on iTunes. The song's cover art of Nikola Tesla sitting at his Magnifying Transmitter was befitting: This song was truly lightning in a bottle.
Jay Elec testified about his life to the hip-hop court and made a passionate plea about why he's the chosen one. With deft delivery of complex lyrics and symbolism (a man asleep on a train), Jay tells the story of a man in search of his identity, a nomad who finds his home in hip-hop. When Jay drops the greatest Islamic rap reference ever, it's both a revelation as he discovers who he is and it's a straight up lyrical orgasm: "They call me Jay Electronica, fuck that/Call me Jay ElecHanukkah/Jay ElecYarmulke/Jay ElectRamadaan Muhammad Asalaamica/Rasoul Allah Subhanahu wa ta'ala through your monitor."
The song created a tremendous buzz for Jay, who failed to capitalize on it by ever delivering an album. But maybe he's better off. This song was a magical moment—one he nor any other rapper in the past five years could top. Maybe the best third act is a disappearing one. —Insanul Ahmed