Since the beginning of the new millennium the West Coast has taken a back seat in Hip Hop. However, recently there has been a resurgence of West Coast emcees. After making noise with the Lil Wayne assisted “All My Life” and signing to Tech N9ne’s Strange Music, [twitter=JayRock]Jay Rock[/twitter] brings us his debut album Follow Me Home.
It’s been quite a while since we have seen a Hip Hop album with a true West Coast feel through and through; that changes with Follow Me Home. With beats from heavy hitters such as J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, Cool & Dre and Tha Bizness, there is a never a moment where the production feels repetitive. Tracks such as “Code Red” and “Just Like Me” bring back the West Coasts’ signature piano-based beats. The production is without a doubt the highlight of the album, the transition from one song to another is almost seamless, the only thing missing is a Dr. Dre beat. Standout tracks include the Willie B produced tracks “Kill or Be Killed” and “No Joke.” The former reminds one of the beep of an electrocardiogram (heart rate monitor), while the latter is a simple, but powerful beat boasting an almost hypnotic piano.
In a time where the focal point is more on how you rhyme rather than what you rhyme, Jay Rock strays from the pack by focusing on the latter. Instead of puns and metaphors, Jay relies on his word choice and rhyme scheme, somewhat reminiscent of the late, great 2Pac (calm down, this is in no way a comparison between the two). Standout tracks include the posse cut “Say Wassup,” featuring his fellow Black Hippy members, and “Kill or Be Killed” with fellow Strange Music artists Krizz Kaliko and Tech N9ne.
In my opinion Jay Rock is one of the few true Gangsta Rappers’ in the game and it shows on the songs on “Follow Me Home.” With a flow similar to that of Shyne and Game, Rock gives every track a gritty, straight off the block feel. Tracks like “All I Know Is” and “Im Thuggin” document life on the streets, and as a gang member. However, while many Gangsta Rappers’ weakness is their lack of diverse subject matter, that is not the case with Jay Rock, with tracks for the ladies like “Westside” featuring Chris Brown and even a party/dance song for gangstas with “Elbows.” Even though Gangsta Rap is Jay’s bread and butter, his best tracks contain deeper content such as “Life’s A Gamble.” The best song on the album is easily the hood anthem “Hood Gone Love It” featuring long time collaborator Kendrick Lamar. A modern day version of Scarface’s “My Block,” “Hood Gone Love It” is sure to get heavy rotation on radio stations and this reviewer’s iPod.
Jay Rock does not disappoint with his debut album. Follow Me Home is a breath of fresh air in a recovering West Coast Hip Hop scene, and I’m sure it will be heard all over the streets in Cali. Jay Rock shows lots of potential, with a great ear for beats and knows how to make a quality song without getting off topic (a rarity in Hip Hop these days). I hope to see him grow lyrically as his career progresses, and with associates like Kendrick Lamar and Tech N9ne, I’m sure the growth will be no problem at all.
If you haven’t purchased Jay Rock’s Follow Me Home yet, you can get a copy at iTunes, or any local music retailer.