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Jay Rock Speaks On 'Follow Me Home' & 'Section.80', Rivalry Within Black Hippy

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. 

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Man Exonerated After Serving 45 Years Forced To Sell Prison Artwork For Money

A Detroit man who served 45 years behind bars for a crime that he didn’t commit, is forced to sell his personal collection of artwork that he made in prison. Richard Phillips, 72, doesn’t have steady income at the moment, and his lawyer is currently battling the state of Michigan to get him compensated for the wrongful conviction that stole his freedom.

"I don't have an income right now," said Phillips while showing off his paintings to Fox 2 Detroit. "This is my income."

In the early 1970s, Phillips was wrongfully convicted for the murder of Gregory Harris. He was sentenced to life in prison but always maintained his innocence. “I would rather died in prison than admit to a crime I didn’t do,” Philips said.

Phillips was convicted through an eyewitness account implicating him and a second man, Richard Palombo. In 2010, Palombo admitted that Phillips had no involvement in the murder and that he didn’t even know him. A new investigation was launched in 2014, nearly 20 years later Phillips appealed his murder conviction.

Last March, Wayne County Prosecutors Kym Worthy dropped all charges against Phillips, officially freeing him from prison. “There’s nothing that I can say to bring back 40 years of his life. The system failed him. There’s no question about it,” Worthy said at the time. “This is a true exoneration. Justice is indeed being done today, but there’s nothing that we can do ... to bring back those years of his life.”

Art played a big part in helping maintain his sanity through the sentence. Though he remained optimistic, Phillips admitted that he never truly believed he would be released. To pass the time, he began painting. He pulled inspiration from everywhere: his favorite artists, photos and even tapped into some of the loneliness that he felt in prison. "It was created in a harsh environment. But it goes to show you that beauty can come from something ugly."

Last year, Detroit's Demond Ricks was awarded $1 million for spending 25 years in prison on a wrongful conviction. As it stands, Phillips is the longest-serving wrongfully convicted former prisoner in U.S. history.

Phillips' artwork will be on display at Michigan's Ferndale's Level One gallery beginning Jan. 18.

See more on his artwork in the video below.

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Gladys Knight Defends Decision To Perform National Anthem At Super Bowl Amid Criticism

Glad Knight says she wants to “give the National Anthem back its voice.” The music legend released a new statement defending her decision to sing  the National Anthem at the Super Bowl in Atlanta, next month, amid criticism from fans.

Several artists turned down offers to perform at the Super Bowl in protest of the league’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick. Knight clarified that her choice to sing has nothing to do with Kaepernick, and she doesn't exactly agree with the anthem being "dragged into the debate."

"I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things and they are police violence and injustice,” Knight said in a statement to Variety. “It is unfortunate that our National Anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the National Anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone.”

The 74-year-old singer also noted that she has been on the forefront of social justice issues for much of her career. "I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to give the Anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words,” Knight said. “The way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good.

"No matter who chooses to deflect with this narrative and continue to mix these two in the same message, it is not so and cannot be made so by anyone speaking it,” she continued. “I pray that this National Anthem will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward and untangle these truths which mean so much to all of us."

Knight isn’t alone in catching heat for joining the Super Bowl lineup. Travis Scott and Big Boi, both of whom will perform with Maroon 5 at halftime, received backlash as well.

Earlier in the week, reports surfaced claiming Scott had a meeting with Kaepernick that ended with “mutual respect” and “understanding.” Kaepernick’s girlfriend and Hot 97 DJ, Nessa Diab, denied the report tweeting, “There is NO mutual respect and there is NO understanding for anyone working against @Kaepernick7 PERIOD. #stoplying.”

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Wendy Williams Postpones Show Return Due To “Complications” From Graves’ Disease

Wendy Williams is promising to get back to The Wendy Williams Show by the end of January, after delaying her return two previous times.

Williams announced another extended hiatus from her talk show as she continues recovering from a shoulder injury and recent “complications” brought on by Graves' disease, according to a statement posted to the show’s Instagram account Friday (Jan. 18).

“Over the past few days, Wendy has experienced complications regarding her Graves’ Disease that will require treatment,” reads the statement. “Wendy will be under the strict supervision of her physicians, and as part of her care, there will be significant time spent in the hospital. Despite her strong desire to return, she is taking a necessary, extended break from her show to focus on her personal and physical well-being.

“Wendy thanks everyone in advance for their well-wishes and for respecting her and The Hunter Family's privacy during this time.”

The statement included a message of support from Debmar-Mercury, the company that syndicates The Wendy Williams Show. “We wholeheartedly support Wendy in this decision to take the time she needs and we will welcome her back with open arms the moment she is ready.”

Williams will return with new episodes the week of Jan. 28.

 

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A Note from The Hunter Family As Wendy Williams Hunter previously shared, she fractured her shoulder and has been on the mend. Over the past few days, Wendy has experienced complications regarding her Graves’ Disease that will require treatment. Wendy will be under the strict supervision of her physicians, and as part of her care, there will be significant time spent in the hospital. Despite her strong desire to return, she is taking a necessary, extended break from her show to focus on her personal and physical well-being. Wendy thanks everyone in advance for their well-wishes and for respecting her and The Hunter Family's privacy during this time. Statement from Debmar-Mercury For over ten years, Wendy has been a vital part of the Debmar-Mercury family. We wholeheartedly support Wendy in this decision to take the time she needs and we will welcome her back with open arms the moment she is ready. The Wendy Williams Show will air repeat episodes the week of January 21st and will produce original episodes with a variety of hosts starting the week of January 28th.

A post shared by Wendy Williams (@wendyshow) on Jan 18, 2019 at 9:34am PST

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