Jay Rock Interview
|Next Project:||Follow Me Home|
|Twitter:||Jay Rock on Twitter|
|Website:||Jay Rock's Website|
For some newly signed artists, the moment of truth arrives when they see their first post-deal bank statement. Born and raised in California, Watts rapper Jay Rock seized that moment. The first individual, male or female, from the famous Nickerson Gardens Projects to sign any type of record deal, Jay Rock knows he is blessed. Fortunate to be in the position he currently holds, regardless of career longevity or stature in the industry, the West Coast rapper simply enjoys knowing he made something of his life. Already signed to the independent entertainment company, Top Dawg, Rock brokered a deal with major player Warner Bros., who will release his debut album “Follow Me Home” this fall. During an interview with DJBooth.net’s DJ “Z,” Jay Rock explains how writing poetry as a child helped shape his current writings, why he plans to mimic The Game, and what differentiates Watts from other well known Southern California neighborhoods such as Compton and Long Beach.
Listen to the Interview
Jay Rock Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on ya’ll? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a native of Watts, California, whose voice and presence on the mic is going to flip the script on the current West Coast Sound. Please welcome Warner Bros recording artist, Jay Rock. How you doin’?
Jay Rock: Whassup, what to do, man, your boy rockin’; what’s good, man?
DJ Booth: Thank you for joinin’ me today. Let’s go ahead and pretend that you’re interviewing for a job right now, and I am your prospective boss. Briefly explain your three best musically-related qualities.
Jay Rock: Three best; I could say my flow, my voice, and my creativity.
DJ Booth: Out of those three – flow, voice, creativity – which one is your staple?
Jay Rock: My voice. Yeah, that’s basically the thing that most people notice about me is my voice; that’s what makes me stand out from everybody else would be my voice.
DJ Booth: If you wouldn’t mind, go ahead, just spit a few bars for me, and give everybody a taste of that voice…
Jay Rock: It’s your boy Jay, motherfuckin’ rock…
DJ Booth: Let’s talk a little history, Jay Rock. You started out writing poems since age twelve; most young men growing up might stray away from calling them poems but rather refer to them as rhymes, lyrics or thoughts. How do you feel that your early writings have affected your current career status?
Jay Rock: Man, it affected me a lot, ‘cause – where I come from, you know, basically I grew up in the hood but I was educated; I read a lot of books going to school, I did all that type of stuff too. So I’m doing stuff in the hood, but basically it played a bit part, of what I’m doin’ now. At first I was just basically, when I was writing poems, I was just basically writing about stuff I’d seen, and stuff growing up and stuff I saw in the hood played a big major part on what I’m doing today.
DJ Booth: Definitely. A quote I read from your bio, regarding your being signed to a label: ”It’s a big achievement for me,” you said, “It’s a blessing and it feels really good. I could be in jail somewhere or in the grave but I’m here, and I need to do it now.” Now, how high is your ceiling in this industry? ‘Cause it seems like, to me, from that quote, that you feel like you’ve already achieved somewhat of a success through just getting this label deal?
Jay Rock: Where I come from man, I’m gonna keep it real: I’m the first young cat outta my projects, to get signed to a major label. That’s a big achievement right there, like nobody ever from my neighborhood got signed to a major deal like that, so you know, for me to even be signed is a blessing, man, ‘cause you know there’s a million people in America wanna get signed, there’s a million people tryin’ to get signed, and the man upstairs looked down on me to get signed, you know? So that’s a blessing.
DJ Booth: You said how much of a needle in a haystack it was for you to get signed, because there are so many people out there who do have skills that are looking for that label deal. How exactly did you go about getting this deal with Warner Bros.?
Jay Rock: Okay, basically I’m just gonna make a long story short. I did a lot of mix tapes in my neighborhood, and they caught the ear of somebody that grew up in my neighborhood, he’s way older, and he’s my manager, and he grew up in my neighborhood and went through the same stuff I went through so he had a little production company; he heard one of my mix tapes and he was like, “Man, you hard!” It was around the time I was rappin’ just to be rappin’, I really wasn’t as serious as I was, ‘cause a lot of stuff was going on. He heard some of my songs and said, “I wanna get you in the studio; I wanna do a demo.” He picked me up out the hood and took me to a studio, and – no lie – he locked me in the studio like I was in jail, like I couldn’t leave; he’d just come feed me meals, you know what I’m sayin’? And I was knocking out like three songs a day. I’m doin’ songs and stuff, and he said, “I’m gonna try to help you get this deal, man. You said you got talent, you a talented young cat and I don’t wanna see you fall victim to the streets.” So, you know, he took my CD out to Warner Bros Records and the music spoke for itself, you know what I’m sayin’? It was all good.
DJ Booth: So it wasn’t even eat, sleep, and rhyme; it was just rhyme. Jay Rock, people became excited when The Game released “The Documentary” back a few years ago, and they started to say, “Oh, the West Coast is ‘back’.” Since The Game’s release, that buzz has wavered, and now it’s not as high as it was. How do you plan to change that, and put the West Coast back on the proverbial map?
Jay Rock: Man, I’m basically trying to do the same thing, like everybody, just tryin’ to do what I do, because the music – what I’m bringin’ is real, you feel me? I’m bringin’ the real live ghetto story, that’s what I’m bringin’ to the table – we need that back in the game. I’m not knockin’ anybody else’s hustle but, you know, that’s what I’m trying to bring back to the game, so basically I’m trying to do what Game did: achieve more and better goals and to do what I gotta do for my side of town, for my city, for Watts, California – I’m tryin’ to put us on the map. We’ve been overlooked for years, so – Compton, Long Beach, they was on the map, I’m just tryin’ to put my city on the map, you know what I’m sayin’, that hopefully I’d be that person to do that. That’s what I’m tryin’ to bring to the game.
DJ Booth: A lot of people who are unfamiliar with the different West Coast cities often clump together Watts and Compton and Long Beach and they don’t look at them as individual areas but rather as just one big Mecca. What is different about Watts, from all the other well-known suburban areas of South Central L.A?
Jay Rock: Man Watts, Watts is the most – Watts is the place of history. When you think of Watts, man, just think about the struggle. Watts is about the struggle, man; people strugglin’, strivin’ – the most gutterest, the grimiest place there is in Los Angeles, you feel me? And my projects are the most notorious projects West Side of Mississippi, and Watts is the place where the rise – Watts risin’, back in the fifties, with the Martin Luther King rise – that’s my city, that’s more than I can say and I don’t really want to talk about it…
DJ Booth: If someone wanted to find out more [about Watts,] Jay Rock, by picking up a copy of your CD (that is set to drop this Fall,) they’d be able to get that from what you have to offer?
Jay Rock: Basically I’m givin’ them the whole rundown: about my city, about what goes on, the real life stories, like I said, from Los Angeles, from what my eyes – that situation, the trials and tribulations I’ve been through, and what I’ve seen, you know what I’m sayin’?
DJ Booth: Your single that’s real big out West and is starting to seriously bubble throughout the country is entitled, “Lift Me Up.” Does hip hop need a helping hand right now?
Jay Rock: Man, hip hop right now, hip hop is crazy right now, you know – I look back in the days, I could say back in the days like in the 90’s the way hip hop used to be. It’s like, people that wear clothes back in the – do you see how people used to dress back then in the 80s. It’s starting to evolve; people comin’ out with new music and hip hop need a helping hand [because] hip hop ain’t sellin’ as many records as they used to. Man, it’s crazy, it’s kinda like – man, I’ll be looking at the Soundscans (charts) and I’ll be like, “Man, what’s wrong?” It ain’t even about a single no more, that’s what I notice: you gotta have a whole package now. It’s just not about a single; somebody could have the hottest single, that could be played on a hundred-some stations and ideally you got to bring a whole package so that’s what I’m bringin’, man, I bringin’ the whole package. So yeah, you’re right: hip hop do need a helping hand, and I think I’m that person to really help it out.
DJ Booth: This Fall, new album, “Follow Me Home,” your debut off of Top Dawg/ Warner Bros Records. In ten seconds: why, when it is available, should everybody go out and pick up a copy?
Jay Rock: It’s real, it’s real live ghetto stories; it’s for the streets, it’s for the people that – basically I’m talkin’ to the youth out there, man, and the people in my age bracket – whatever trials and tribulations you’re going through, or wherever you at in the ghetto, man, you can make it out. I’m a living example, and you all should go cop my album, ‘cause it’s real.
DJ Booth: I appreciate your realness and I appreciate your honesty. Give everybody a website, Jay Rock, so they can find out more about this impending release and your upstart career.
Jay Rock: Okay, y’all can check me out: www.myspace.com/jayrock; just log on to Warner Bros Records [Online] and check me out.
DJ Booth: Well I appreciate your time and I sincerely wish you nothing but the best of luck with this new album, “Follow Me Home,” and your career, my man.
Jay Rock: Yeah, all day man. That’s good-looking, man I appreciate it. Thanks a lot for havin’ me.
DJ Booth: Anytime.