Review: Jay Rock is at the tip of the Peak on 90059

Jay Rock was the first rapper, off Top Dawg Entertainment, to branch out with his first release with a major label co-sign. Follow Me Home was like any typical gangster rap album that lacked an oomph. On 90059, Jay Rock created a clear dark and rough atmosphere; he also stayed consistent with his themes, all of which was the flavor Follow Me Home needed.

Prior to the album’s release, A-Plus Films in collaboration with Top Dawg Entertainment released a 5-minute documentary on the album and the numbers’ meaning. Jay Rock would go on to say in the documentary that the number is the zip code for Watts, Cal; the place that made him a man, taught him how to survive and strive.

Jay Rock has been one of the more neglected rappers of the group. He had a deal with Warner Bros. and Strange Music, believing he made it, but when comparing himself to Kendrick and Schoolboy Q’s success he realized it wasn’t as real. 90059 sees Rock giving us a lengthy limitation in records but a complete story molded with hard instrumentals and powerful verses from Rock and his features.

On “Easy Bake,” Rock’s opening bar goes “I’m back in this bitch, nigga you know what’s up,” which premeditated the thoughts I left with. With Rock rapping this, I’m assured that he made it out that four-year gap with ease. Then I learned about the meaning of Watts to Jay Rock. It’s heavy. Kendrick Lamar is also on this record.

P.S. He’s really good.

Rock exclaimed, in the documentary, that his fellow group members taught him the importance of a hook, which helps sell an album with catchiness. Unlike the other albums from the TDE collective, the hooks carry Rock’s overall themes and are consistently great.

“Easy Bake” is an example of this without having Rock change his thuggish nature.

What? This shit is fresh out the oven

Whip game cold, man this shit ‘bout to bubble

Big bank rolls, either hate it or love it

It’s anything goes, just as long as you thuggin’

Just as long as you thuggin’, yeah it’s fresh out the oven

Whip game cold, man this shit ‘bout to bubble

Big bank rolls, either hate it or love it

It’s anything goes, just as long as you thuggin’

Just as long as you thuggin’

Big bank rolls, just as long as you thuggin’

Whip game cold, just as long as you thuggin’

Here Rock uses cooking as an analogy about making your music just as long as you represent your roots. Thuggin’ could also mean swag or pimpin or successful. This is reflective of the hustle theme Rock has on the album. A theme incorporated well on other hard tracks like “Wanna Ride” and “Money Trees Deuce.”

The record has a second part to it; it has an upbeat and livelier instrumental, opposed to the first part’s gritty-hard-braggadocios rap style. It opens with a radio skit that takes influence from the WBalls interludes found on albums like Doggystyle and U Know What I’m Throwin’ Up. Rock’s verse on the other hand has some great lines and some lesser ones. This is the kind of interlude that really represents that west coast flare. It’s nice to be nostalgic here and there.

Other songs like, “The Ways,” “Gumbo,” and “Fly on the Wall,” all achieve a similar effect; the latter track even comes with a nice surprise from Busta Rhymes.

On “Wanna Ride” Jay Rock makes a record that’s tough and it’s suited for that summer riding music. Showing off a braggadocios nature, Rock clearly knows how to kill. A standout for the record is the southern flare from TDE signee Isaiah Rashad.

On this album, Jay Rock creates a different shade of Rock; singer Lance SkiiiWalker represents this character on hooks and breaks. He appears on three records, the first being “Telegram (Going Krazy).” Skiiiwalker steals the show here with his somber toned melodic vocals. It’s almost hypnotic how sympathetic Jay Rock makes it out to be.

“90059,” is the second track featuring Lance Skiiiwalker. The record’s hook has Skiiiwalker walking the streets of Watts. He writes it so it paints an image of these hard ass streets.

I don’t know why niggas keep fucking with me

These streets make it so hard to breathe

Highs and my lows

Look both ways, where I’m supposed to go

Ah, shit, get out my pocket 

Skiiiwalker raps the hook. It seems as if he’s confused about the image being pictured of Watts. The suffocating drama in the second bar, while confusion is brought out by the fourth bar reflecting on kids and others looking both ways before going on helps paint a very rough hood. Watts, Cal is known for the infamous Watts Riots of ’65, in a time where Malcolm X was protesting the inequalities alongside Martin Luther King. As such Skiiiwalker plays on the line said before X was murdered, “Get your hand out my pocket.” That’s a little history lesson for you.

Jay Rock’s verses reflect on the hardships Rock went through growing up. Since Skiiiwalker is the odd one out, Rock’s verses go in. Rock is ferocious on the track, as if this shit was not what the media tells you, but even harder then that. He’s seeing a kid riding around with a gat, thinking it’s cool, and taking that quick pop if you respond slowly. It’s creating a picture full of anarchy and chaos. To Rock, Watts was chaotic.

Hustling for the money is another well established recurring theme throughout the album.

It’s even evident in the pen-ultimate track featuring Skiiiwalker is “Money Trees Deuce,” the sequel and first single off the album, and the alter ego’s third and final appearance. It’s a commendable sequel, like I really fucked with it. Skiiiwalker sounds hungry on the hook and that’s what I’ve come to grasp from the album. Jay Rock came from this place that was well, pretty shitty. He’s trying to get out the trap and make his hustle as a rapper worthwhile, tryna get that money in order to get some stability.

Before I leave you with final thoughts, here are some thoughts on “Vice City” the most recent Black Hippy record since Good Kid M.a.a.D. City. And dammit, it is worthwhile. It’s far different from their previous records, a little more satirical in content found within the verses. Here I realized I haven’t heard Rock this hungry and dominating since his verse on “Black Lip Bastard,” off Ab-Soul’s album, Control System.

He stated, in the documentary, that the album’s title “is really based upon – being confined into this box. It’s all about stepping outside the box;” the box being his hometown/zip code. And that’s what we get.

The album is a return to form for Jay Rock. It’s a fantastic album all around and I cannot recommend enough if you vibe with that real gangster rap sh*t.

 

9.5/10

Kevin Montes is one sarcastically satirical dude. He’s usually at home watching hours of comedy and television, primarily Simpsons. Kevin aspires to be a TV writer, a joke writer, and composer for all things Harmony Korine. You can reach him on twitter @iamkevinmontes to further ask about all things Simpsons.