Jay Rock

Album Review: Jay Rock – 90059

Of the four members of TDE’s Black Hippy collective, Jay Rock always seems to be the most overlooked. Jay Rock does not have the same buzz of TDE main superstar Kendrick Lamar, the magnetism of Schoolboy Q, or the philosophical allure of Ab-Soul; but what he does have is an intensity that paints vivid images of his surroundings.

Rock utilizes his gritty vocals like a sword slicing through the lush productions of TDE’s production team, carving out his rightful place as a superstar in his own right and not just the silent mysterious OG in the crew.

“Change gon’ come – That’s what it’s about…Wherever you’re at, don’t give up. No matter where you come from.” – Jay Rock

Rock’s sophomore album has been a long time coming – he released his previous LP, Follow Me Home, back in 2011. Four years later, and after several pushed back release dates, his sophomore album 90059 is finally here. 90059 is a proper introduction to Jay Rock; this is Rock’s Good Kid Maad City and he shines throughout the album.

The 11-track effort is very much a family affair. It features collaborations with Kendrick Lamar and the rest of the Black Hippy crew (Rock, Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul), as well as his fellow TDE label mates SZA and Isaiah Rashad. Jay Rock seems to be laser focused – doing away with any filler that made Follow Me Home seem like a cluster fuck.

Standout tracks include: “Gumbo” a production masterpiece. Everyone knows that a good dish of Gumbo has to have the perfect seasoning – and this song amply shares it’s name with the savoury dish. This song has serious flavour – “The Ways”, a very atmospheric track where we get introduced to Inglewood singer-songwriter SiR who provides a nice hook that perfectly compliments Rock’s voice. “Vice City” the most explosive tracks on the album. As the title of the song suggests, each artist touches on their personal vices, however, the overarching themes appear to be money and women. “Fly on the Wall” serving as a metaphor of Jay Rock being a fly on the wall and constantly witnessing the harsh realities of his block, and how it messes with his mental state. Busta Rhymes provides an outstanding guest verse where he functions as Jay Rock’s Mentor and provides Rock with words of wisdom. “Money Trees Deuce” is another of the album standout tracks. It’s a sequel to Kendrick Lamar’s “Money Trees” from 2012’s Good Kid Maad City, on which Jay Rock was featured. Here, Rock urges the listener to “go hard for what you believe in… work hard and good things will fall in your favour.”

Sonically Jay Rock has really stepped it up, the beats hit hard in all the right places and are filled with lots of soul – even his raps seem more elaborate. Songs are filled with thought-provoking lyrics, numerous double-meanings and Rock continuously switches up his flow, which keeps things interesting.

This album is amazing from top to bottom. Follow Me Home may have been extremely lackluster but Rock went back to the drawing board, took his time, perfected his craft, and delivers a cohesive powerful body of work. 90059 is the album you just pop in, ride in your car and vibe to. Jay Rock kills it.

B+

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