Jay Rock. Watts City Finest. Black Hippy member. 1st Top Dawg off the leash. There’s been a lot of anticipation and a lot of hype around this album, especially recently with its unique marketing scheme.
It’s been 4 years since we’ve had a full Jay Rock project and between that time he’s been dropping some pretty hot songs and has killed a lot of features (“I Just Wanna Party”, “Black Lip Bastard”, “Money Trees”, “Los Awesome”). Top Dawg Entertainment has grown a lot since Jay Rock dropped his debut album Follow Me Home back in 2011. With each member dropping pretty amazing work everyone’s been wondering about Jay Rock.
Follow Me Home is an album that’s pretty underrated and heavily slept on being that Jay Rock didn’t really blow up as big as he could have, rather should have, back in the early 2010’s. But now that TDE has amassed a huge following and each member has dropped a follow-up, it’s now time to see where Jay Rock stands in the light of all this attention. It all comes back around. Lets go.
1. Necessary Produced by Black Metaphor & JRB for the Coalition
Great introductory track for the album. I love the way the first part of the track fades in with the guitars screaming in the background. Then about 35 seconds in… good lord. The beat switches and Jay Rock goes crazy and cremates the mic.
And I could take you where them niggas get bodied, but that ain’t nobody’s business, so what the fuck is he asking for?
Rock sounds hungry as hell. Lots of aggressions and lyrically he’s on point. Love that last verse that closes off this track too. The hook is pretty tight as well. Digging it a lot overall. Definitely a highlight on this album.
2. Easy Bake Featuring Kendrick Lamar & SZA; Produced by Skhye Hutch, Antydote, ThankGod4Cody, Chris Calor, & SmokeyGotBeatz
During my first encounter with this track, I wasn’t feeling the way Jay Rock was flowing on the beat and I didn’t find the beat itself standing out that much to me. With some more time though and more listens this track has actually grown on me and I think it’s really dope. I really wish the back and forth Rock and Kendrick had going on lasted longer than it did, but Kendrick was a nice topping for the track and hyped it up more.
There’s a little radio skit that leads into a beat switch up that begins with some pretty nice and smooth vocals from SZA and then a nice final verse from Jay Rock. The beat for this second half of the track is pretty damn great. Sorta reminds me of something I might hear. Rock sounds really good on this beat and I wish this half of the song was longer. At certain moments during this last verse his flow and voice sorta reminded of Jay Electronica a bit. Also, I love that Boondocks reference
Show yo hands, watch how I shuffle/And show you why they hate more niggas than Uncle Ruckus
3. Gumbo Produced by J. LBS.
A lot of flavor on this track. I’m really digging some of the lines Jay Rock gives us on this one.
You ever put your hand over fire just to see what you could tolerate?
Yeah, I’m the vision, from the night I was born/To be the eye of the tiger in the eye of the storm
The production on this track is pretty solid as well. Very smooth; something you could vibe out to. Shoutout to J.LBS. I’m digging this one.
4. Wanna Ride Featuring Isaiah Rashad; Produced by J. LBS., Tae Beast, & Antydote
This track starts of with a pretty smooth beat that knocks a bit and Jay Rock hops on it sounding pretty confident. Digging the first verse.
I’m twisting up fingers, squeezin’ on heaters/Hangin’ out the drop, 2Pac out the speakers
After the first verse the beat switches up a bit and transitions to the hook performed by the Isaiah Rashad, the youngest member of Top Dawg Entertainment who dropped a really nice EP early last year. Sadly this where the track falls apart for me. I’m not really into the way Isaiah Rashad’s vocals are shifted for the hook and it overall just sounds a bit messy for me. As for Jay Rock, his next few verses are pretty good, but it doesn’t really save it for me. If the beat was amped up a little more after the shift and maybe if Isaiah Rashad had a full verse on the track, since he’s been pretty quiet lately, then it could have saved this track for me. But overall it’s not bad cut. It’s something you could ride too.
Why you actin’ puto/She call me papi chulo
5. The Ways Featuring Sir; Produced by J. LBS.
BITCH I KNOW ABOUT YA
I’m liking this track. Jay Rock jumps out pretty loud over this pretty mellow beat and it might be a little off-putting to some. I find it pretty enjoyable especially with how he flows over the beat comfortably. You can tell Jay Rock is really trying to experiment with his voice a bit, as we’ve gotten quite a bit of different inflections since the start of the album. The subject matter is pretty much just about …the ways. The way people in his area, or pretty much any hood, are sort of influenced and how they act with what they’re given in their everyday life. Interiors hidden by exteriors. I dig it.
6. Telegram (Going Krazy) Featuring Lance Skiiiwalker; Produced by J. LBS.
The subject matter for the track basically dives into how a lack of trust and the negatives that social media and miscommunication has had a pretty stressful impact on Jay Rock’s relationship. The subject matter is relatable, but it feels a bit dull with how mellow the beat is and how Jay Rock goes over the beat. A lot of the beats have been pretty smooth and mellow so far aside from the first two tracks on the album. Overall, not a bad track, but I just can’t vibe with it.
7. 90059 Produced by Tae Beast
The reception of this track was a bit mixed when it dropped because of the kooky ODB influenced hook, but I actually really enjoyed this track. Jay Rock is pretty aggressive and has a lot of great lines on this track. I especially like the last verse.
Sleeping in the bando, it’s either death or jail Something you never planned for, dreaming about Lambos Wake up shivering, pillow next to a lamppost Straight up out the motherfuckin’ crockpot it’s Watts One stops leave you with dope, socks is not boxed No rats, re-rock that got them all losing weight Got all they teeth shot but got a sweet spot Gotta call up Dr. Dre just for the Detox All of this in one zip code, keep the streets hot
I wish the transition into the hook was mixed a little smoother, but that’s me nitpicking a little. I dig the kooky and unorthodox vibe of this track. Plus it’s nice to have a more hard-hitting track after all these mellow cuts.
8. Vice City Featuring Black Hippy; Produced by Cardo Yung & Exclusive
BIG MONEY, BIG BOOTY BITCHES MAN THAT SHIT GON’ BE THE DEATH OF ME
This is what we’ve been waiting for. Black Hippy back at it again.
Reading the title I’m instantly reminded of GTA: Vice City. Ah, memories of running up in the shopping mall hitting licks on anybody in front of me.
This track is pretty damn solid. Not everyone is gonna love it with how odd they flow over this track, but taking it as it is, this is a pretty fun track and you can tell they had fun coming together to craft this. I guess the main thing people are gonna do with this is debate on who had the best verse. For me it’s between Ab-Soul and ScHoolboy Q. Kendrick’s verse and flow is very quirky and makes me laugh every time I hear him say “big booty bitches”, while Jay Rock comes through with a pretty raw verse and a lot of disrespect. Everyone did their thing. You just can’t help but love it when these four collab. TDE is definitely running shit (Please give us a Black Hippy album soon).
9. Fly on the Wall Featuring Busta Rhymes; Produced by Dae One & AAyhasis
Damn. Jay Rock really painted a picture with this one. Loving the chill production and the lyrics on this. It’s basically talking about observing what’s around you while being unnoticed and gathering an idea of the world you’re surrounded in and the influences that are birthed by the people who inhabit it and the dangers that come with being involved. It’s a big highlight on this album. The Busta Rhymes verse is dope too. It’s a big up to Jay Rock’s career in the rap game and he expresses his respect for him after watching him evolve into a very talented artist. I have no problems with this track. I genuinely like everything about it.
10. Money Trees Deuce Featuring Lance Skiiiwalker; Produced by Flippa & J Proof
Imagine Rock up in that field where options ain’t so audible
“Money Trees” is one of my favorite Kendrick Lamar tracks and features one of my favorite Jay Rock verses, so to have a sequel track is pretty damn great. I really like this track and Jay Rock does a good job again at painting some pretty imagery for us. The hook on this track is solid too and the production is very well done. It bangs, but it’s still pretty mellow like a lot of tracks on this album which kind of makes this album feel a little too chill at times. But still, this track as a whole is pretty great and has been getting a lot of replay from me.
Feeling like Osama, got my llama close/Hope them boys don’t come knock at my momma door
I know a lot of people said they wish Kendrick had a verse on this track, but honestly I think Jay Rock held his own on this track and having a third Kendrick verse on this album would’ve made it feel a bit too crowded with Kendrick features. The idea to have him featured on a sequel to his own track is pretty dope, but I think the track is fine as is. Closes with a pretty inspiring message too.
11. The Message Produced by J. LBS. & Sounwave
I like how Jay Rocks closing message on the previous track leads into the closing track “The Message”. It’s a pretty smooth track, no surprise. I especially like the horns in the background. Jay Rock delivers on the verses with some pretty inspiring lyrics. Basically this track is Jay Rock telling you that even though we may face difficult tasks and sometimes there might not seem like there’s hope or a change to come, don’t give up. Change gon’ come. Vic Smitty does well on the hook and delivers a pretty vintage feel for the track, giving it a good closing feel.
This album is a lot smoother than I thought it’d be. There’s a couple of lulls for me in the tracklist, but the highs on this album are pretty damn high so it balances out. Jay Rock on this album experimented a lot with the tone of this voice and came through with some pretty introspective tracks giving us a look into his life, whether it be past or present. Sometimes the subject matter might make you feel like you’re on the outside and just looking in, making it a bit uninteresting for you, but when Jay Rock wants your full attention he makes sure to grab it. I like the introspective tracks like “Fly on the Wall” and “The Message”, as well as the bangers like “Necessary” and “Easy Bake”. Other highlights I would include are “Money Trees Deuce”, “Vice City”, “Gumbo” and “90059”.
The biggest complaint I have about this album is that there’s only 11 tracks. It sort of feels like an appetizer. Like going out to eat and then getting the appetizer, finishing it, and then leaving. You just want more, which should be understandable since we haven’t had a new Jay Rock project since 2011. You want as much as you can get since he’s been in the shadows for a while. But appetizer or not, I see this as a new beginning for Jay Rock. A first step back into the game as the “1st dawg off the leash”. If you’re a Jay Rock fan you will think “That shit was brackin”.