Jay Rock is unique for the relevant and straight-to-the-point nature of his lyrics in a genre where superfluity is commonplace. His lines are always known to be original – saying things as they are. However, Rock’s career has been fraught with numerous challenges and setbacks. From inconsistent and delayed releases to a ghastly motorcycle accident, Jay has not been able to flow at the expected speed despite being TDE’s first signee.
So far, Jay has not less than three studio albums to his credit – Follow Me Home (2011), 90059 (2015) and Redemption (2018). His name may not be sounding that loud, but Jay Rock is a rapper that has carved a niche for himself and is making good marks in it.
Who Is Jay Rock?
Jay Rock is an American Hip hop rapper, singer, songwriter and record producer. He was born as Johnny Reed McKinzie, Jr., on March 31, 1985, in Watts, Los Angeles, California. He grew up in Watts where he attended Lorke High School.
Owing to his family’s economic background, Rock could not further his education. He resorted to living on the streets while practicing his musical talent as much as delinquency could allow him. Luckily for him, the manager of Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) stumbled into one of his verses and found the lyrics to be something to reckon with. He, therefore, brought Rock into the TDE label. That was in 2005. TDE subsequently helped him to secure a recording contract with Asylum Records. In 2007, they also connected him to a joint venture deal with Warner Bros. Records.
Following his signing to the TDE records, Jay Rock struggled with a lot of criminal habits including drug addiction, a challenge that impeded his level of productivity and progress in his music career. He, however, managed to release a good number of mixtapes in his neighborhood and on the internet in the first few years. But he was only able to come up with his own independent single, “All My Life [In the Ghetto]“in 2008.
In the last quarter of 2010, Jay Rock left Warners Bros. over delayed album release and signed a multi-album deal with an indie record label, Strange Music.
In 2011, Rock released his first studio album, Follow Me Home. This was preceded a month earlier by the release of his second single, “Hood Gone Love It“. The next year, he featured in fellow rapper and label-mate, Kendrick Lamar‘s first TDE album, good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012). 2013 saw him perform with Lamar at the Bet Hip Hop Awards gala.
In 2014, Jay left Strange Music Records and was left with only TDE label. Shortly after, he released a promotional single “Pay for It” as a forerunner to his upcoming second album, 90059 which he dished out on 11th September 2015. Later in 2014, he performed the song on Saturday Night Live together with Kendrick Lamar.
2016 was a rough and trying year for Jay Rock. Barely four months after releasing 90059, he had a ghastly motorbike accident on the 15th of February. The accident which earned him numerous fractures and a series of surgeries was a huge setback for Rock’s career as he spent quite a while recovering from the injuries.
By January 2018, Rock has bounced back! He came back with a new single, “King’s Dead“, a lead to his third album, Redemption. Another single “Win” from the album followed in May. Redemption was finally released on June 15, 2018.
5 Facts You Need To Know About The Rapper
1. Jay Rock was raised in a Ghetto
Jay’s family lived in the Nickerson Gardens, a 156-building public housing complex at 1590 East 114th Street in Watts, consisting of 1,066 single bedroom apartments.
This was the sort of neighborhood Rock was born and raised in. As a teenager, he joined the Bounty Hunter Bloods street gang. During this period, Rock was always entangled in one crime or the other and was jailed on two occasions, due to the neighborhood’s anti-gang injunction.
2. He chose rapping over street crime
Jay Rock was lucky enough to find salvation from hooliganism. Anthony Tiffith, founder and CEO of the independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) was the savior. Tiffith happened to listen to a verse written by Jay Rock; (this means that Rock already had music talent in him but lacked the discipline and guidance to make something of it). The TDE CEO searched for and found Rock in 2005, and signed him to the label. Thanks to Rock too who chose to make good the opportunity.
3. Rock Is A Member of Black Hippy
Jay Rock is one of the four members of Black Hippy, an American Hip hop super-group. Rock and his TDE label-mates, Hip hop artist Ab-Soul, rapper Kendrick Lamar and rapper Schoolboy Q formed the group in 2008.
Black Hippy really made a significant impact on Jay Rock’s music career. Among the feat he achieved with the help of the group was becoming the cover of XXL‘s 2010 Top 10 Freshmen issue. Apart from his individual productions, Jay Rock has also toured as well as released several successful works with the group.
4. He Has Toured With 50 Cent
Jay has had the opportunity of performing alongside popular acts such as world-famous rapper 50 Cent. In 2010, he toured with 50 Cent alongside other rappers on “The Invitation Tour“. This privilege enhanced Rock’s fan-base and opened more opportunities for him. He also went on the “Independent Grind National Tour” with celebrated rappers Tech N9ne, E-40, Glasses Malone, Kutt Calhoun and Kendrick Lamar, same year.
5. He Was There Before Lamar
You may not be aware that Jay Rock has been on the stage before some highly celebrated rap artists. TDE superstar rapper, Kendrick Lamar is a typical example.
After signing to a label in 2005, it took Jay Rock 3 years to release his first commercial single, and another 3 years to come out with his debut album. Even at that, Lamar’s lauded album, Section 80 released three weeks ahead soon overshadowed Rock’s.
Poor Rock continued to languish in the background, even though his work on Lamar’s “Money Trees,” from the good kid, m.A.A.d city 2012 album remains arguably the most remarkable guest appearance within the TDE network, as well as the project that rocketed the label to mainstream legitimacy.
Howbeit, Jay Rock used his third album, Redemption to throw light on his life challenges. According to him in an interview, the devil fought hard to stop him from making it but he refused to succumb to his antics. Although he may not be currently ranked as a superstar in his field, the TDE’s first signee is at least a success.