Since his debut effort Follow Me Home dropped in 2011, Watts MC Jay Rock landed on Saturday Night Live thanks to an appearance with his old crew member Kendrick Lamar. Don't think fame has gone to his head though, as this sophomore release named after his hometown's zip code is raw and ready to fight, including taking down all the industry folk who helped hold up this second LP. Production is edgier than expected and highlights include the single "Easy Bake" with Kendrick, along with the Busta Rhymes feature "Fly on the Wall." Longtime fans should jump right to the great "Vice City," the first posse cut since 2012 from Rock's Black Hippy crew.
Top Dawg Entertainment first signed Jay Rock in 2005, in the wake of the Game's The Documentary. At the time, the Dr. Dre-sanctioned multiplatinum album seemed to promise a resurgence for Cali gangsta rap, which might reclaim the throne it abdicated in the mid-'90s after the death of 2Pac. Instead, Game’s Shady/Aftermath/G-Unit connection combusted spectacularly with the record still fresh in stores and L.A.’s stronghold broke, as Snoop became a ward of the Neptunes, Dre tinkered with a third album we’ve only just come to hear this summer, and everyone else fought nobly but ultimately lost footing in the mainstream for good.
The first Black Hippy member out the gate is also now the last to drop a studio album after his friend and former hypeman Kendrick Lamar became a name even your mom would recognize. After four years of bated breath, tease singles (2014's "Pay For It," performed on Saturday Night Live, no less, is nowhere to be seen here) and recoupment strategizing (TDE held off dropping 90059 until it was satisfied with the number of iTunes pre-orders), the sophomore shot from TDE's most straightforward and street-hardened artist arrives like a slap. More nuanced and compelling than the Watts native's underrated debut, 2011's Follow Me Home, Jay Rock's zip code-titled effort should be copped for the first Black Hippy posse cut since 2012 alone.
Don't listen to Twitter. When Jay Rock's sophomore album, 90059, dropped, the tweets panned it for the most part. They—better yet, we—waited four long years for the follow-up to his debut, Follow Me Home, and the people felt slighted. Like most things on the Internet, I took those opinions with a grain of salt and played this album constantly over the weekend waiting to get tired of it.
There have been discussion board conversations and thinkpieces about which member of Black Hippy equates to which member of The Beatles for a while now. Regardless of the outcomes of those theories or even the validity of the connection, there’s something interesting in the comparative group dynamics. While TDE rappers Kendrick Lamar, Jay Rock, ScHoolboy Q, and Ab-Soul don’t work as a group the same way the Liverpool lads did, they’re known as a unit, which to many demands comparison for their output — the same way people argued whether they favored Lennon or McCartney’s Beatles songs (or Harrison or Starr, for those in favor of the dark horse).