TDE is currently sitting on top of the rap game. Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q are some of hip hops current superstars. However Jay Rock has seemingly been forgotten about. In the process of the music industry TDE put emphasis on other artists not Jay Rock, and this is a shame. It has been over 4 years since his last commercial album and this album didn’t get much promotion besides the whole ‘we will move up the release date if more people pre-order’ debacle. This actually made a lot of people frustrated as they kept moving the date around and you have to wonder if the pre orders ever effected the release date. If it was always going to come out on 9/11? Who knows?
Jay has kept this away from radio spins and traditional concepts of a banger. When his music does get close to being a banger like on ‘Vice City’ with ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Kendrick Lamar, the flow is so weird and out there that it makes the song have a very unique feeling, and don’t get me wrong I love the unique flow, but it does kill the potential of the song for a wider audience.
After a four year wait fans may be disappointed by the length of the album. With only 11 songs clocking in around 45mins it is a pretty short album and feels like it ends way too quickly. Ideas seemed like they were not fleshed out as much as they could be and I feel a few more songs could have definitely helped.
Lyrically Jay Rock is as strong as ever. Songs like ‘Gumbo’, ‘Fly On The Wall’, and ‘Money Trees Deuce’ all deal with the street life. We hear a candid Rock telling a story of the street with brutal honesty, great imagery and with a fresh perspective that sounds like it came from an elder. He doesn’t glamorize the street life, like some artists in hip hop. They are songs about struggling and pain. Lines like ‘Wake up in the morning with my nose to the gravel’ and ‘Have you ever put your hand over fire just to see what you could tolerate?’ on Gumbo show his lyrical excellence. Jay lets you know he is talking about his city from the beginning of the great opener ‘Necessary’ in which the first words you hear chanted is “90059 be the zip”.
The album however does suffer from an interesting placement of songs. The album starts out hitting hard, with high gritty intensity, and then picks up during the middle. However after these the intensity is dropped and it feels a bit awkward. The transition from these high intensity songs to some less intense songs just made the album not flow well. I’m not saying the songs are bad, just that, together, as a unified project they don’t flow into one another.
You can hear Jay Rocks influences all over this album. Influence from Ol’ Dirty Bastard on the hook of ‘90059’ and just the production in general remind me of some 50 Cent or 2pac.
Overall Jay Rock has come through with a great album that suffers from some lull songs and a short run length. It feels as if Jay Rock was going to have this moment that cemented his position in Hip Hop. A way to blaze a trail for him, but it just never feels like he accomplished this.
Written by Rhys Prka
Fav Tracks: 90059, Vice City, Easy Bake, Necessary, Gumbo, Money Trees Deuce
Least Fav: Telegram (Going Krazy)
Release Date: 11th Sep