Published Sep 15, 2015The 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. "Vice City," featuring Lamar, Rock, ScHoolboy Q and Ab-Soul, is a treasure; the quartet examine their kryptonite (shopping, big booties, et al.) while assuming a playful trail-off flow that should spawn a few copycats.
It works within the LP's tight scope, which has plenty more on offer, even at just 11 songs — short enough to fit on half of a 90-minute Maxell. Despite TDE's fame and fortune, 30-year-old Jay Rock, a former member of the Bounty Hunter Bloods familiar with jails and courtrooms, carries with him distrust and sadness and determination, which serve as thematic touchstones throughout.
"Most my niggas gone or the jail got 'em," he spits, blunt as always, on "Money Trees Deuce," and later, on closer "The Message," he gets just as real: "Vengeance is like a condition... That's why I keep one foot in the game, like a flamingo."
It's as if no one has patted him on the back and said, "It's okay, Rock, we made it." Or they did, and he doesn't believe it. Either way, it makes for better, harsher, truer music from 90059. (TDE)