Fresh off the release of Jay Rock's long-awaited debut Follow Me Home, VIBE chops it up with the L.A. rapper about his new album, Kendrick Lamar's comeup and rivalry within the TDE camp.
Interview: Brooklyne Gipson
VIBE: It’s been a long time coming, but you’ve finally released Follow Me Home. Is there anything on the LP that might surprise fans?
Jay Rock: The most surprising thing is that I’m really dropping an album [laughs]. A lot of haters been downing me but I never gave up and that’s what the fans love. What’s going to surprise them is the level I’ve come to over the years. I didn’t just stay at the bottom. My craft’s been rising. I’m a student of the game and I’m still growing.
How have things changed since you left Warner and linked up with Strange Music?
TDE and Strange—we free thinkers. Tech N9ne is like, This yo music. Do what you feel. Speak yo mind. Ain’t no holds barred to it. That’s the attitudes them guys got. He does what he feels and says whatever’s on his mind. Whatever’s going on in his life, he puts it in his music.
Does your partnership with Strange pull you away from your TDE family? Going on tour with Strange and other things…
What’s crazy is, when TDE and Strange first joined forces I went on my first big tour—the Independent Grind Tour this year, and I had Kendrick with me. We was on the road together, then everybody started knowing who Kendrick Lamar is. Everyone knew him as K Dot, but he stepped out the box to make the world know Kendrick Lamar and now you see he’s rising. I used to tell people that like five years ago: Watch, if K Dot step out the box it’s gone be a problem. Look at him now—working with Dre, working with J. Cole. I’m proud of him, he dropped his mixtapes, he been grinding hard just like me.
Kendrick’s been getting a lot of love from Section.80...
I purchased mine on my iPhone as soon as it dropped. This is just the beginning for him. And like I said, I used to tell people all the time that he’s a real lyricist. Section.80—you need to really listen to that CD because he has a message: It’s basically talking about our generation, us '80s babies. Just like my CD is talking about our generation.
Kendrick’s music has definitely evolved since his K Dot days. Has his creative process in the studio changed?
It’s all feeling with him. Everybody on the West Coast knows our lifestyle and culture. But the thing with Kendrick is that his mind is everywhere, he don’t stick on one thing. He can write a song about Apple computers and have you thinking like about some whole other stuff. He’s a real deep person. That dude’s amazing.
Is there any rivalry or competition within TDE?
Aww, yeah you already know! We always try to out-rap each other! But it’s all love though. We got good energy. Every time we in the studio, we get together we just make beautiful music that the people love. And like I said, Black Hippy, we just do what we feel. You ain’t gotta like us, but respect us because we been doing our thing for a minute.
Is that the same attitude behind the song “Hood Gon’ Love It”?
Yeah. When we did that song, I was thinking about my troubles when I was on a major label. They was like “You gotta do this. You gotta do that” and I was like “Naw, I want to do my music. I want to do what me and my team think is best.” Everybody got different opinions but I know one thing: You might not like it but I know the hood gon’ love it. The hood always got my back. I know they gone relate to it.
You spilled a lot of different emotions from all over the spectrum into this album. Two songs that stand out are “Finest Hour” and “Money.” Can you talk about where you at mentally when you did these songs?
When I wrote [“Finest Hour”] I was thinking about all of the successful people I seen growing up. People I seen in my neighborhood, on TV and in movies—people that were just on a higher scale. At any given time you can lose it try not to worry about that. Just live for the moment instead of stressing. Keep a good spirit but if the worst happens, you lived it out in your finest hour. When I did [“Money”] I was thinking about the good, bad and ugly with money. You know they say money is the root of evil. That’s true, but then money can make you happy. Money can make or break you. It just depends on what you make it to be. That’s basically why I did that song, just experiences with people who have money and people who don’t have money.
When people hear the whole project, how do you want them to walk away feeling?
I just hope they learn something. Because basically Follow Me Home is just that: I want you to follow me home so I can put you in the mindset of that gang member, that gang banger, that hustler, that dude that’s struggling in life, that dude that’s growing up in the ghetto.
What’s going on with the other two Black Hippy members?
Schoolboy Q about to drop his next little project coming right after mine in August. Ab Soul working on something we still have Black Hippy. Everyone’s just working. It’s just the beginning. We still gone hustle like we broke and keep making good music for the people that love it.