The heart of Top Dawg Entertainment, Jay Rock, has finally released the follow up to his 2015 album, 90059, aptly entitled Redemption. Ever dedicated to his craft, Rock sat down with Complex to discuss the finer points of making his album, including his thirst for constructive criticism.
“I play some stuff for Top Dawg, Kendrick, the homies, family, and friends,” he said. “And like I say, like I tell everybody, I play something for you, let me know. Don’t be afraid to tell me this shit is wack. Let me know if this shit trash. Let me know. I love constructive criticism. That’s what I tell the homies. I tell anybody, close friends and relatives.
“I want people to be upfront with me and let me know, ‘That shit is wack.’ So when I play stuff for the homies, they keep it 100. They be like, ‘No, I think you could go harder. I think you could do this.’ I love that constructive criticism. Back then you couldn’t tell me nothing though. [Laughs] but now I’m always, lend an open ear and listen.”
Good for Jay Rock. A decade in the game, a minute in the game, it’s never easy to hear that your hard work isn’t producing optimal results, but his actively seeking those harsh critiques simply proves Rock’s dedication to hip-hop and to himself. This is more than a quest for approval, this is coming out swinging.
With the commercial adaptability of Redemption, too, it’s obvious Jay Rock is a good listener. Much like Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. dabbling in trends, Redemption lightly borrows from the sound of the moment, flipping it into the tightly wound street narratives that outpour from its author. At this stage in his career, Rock definitely needed to take a few cues to get both feet into deserved mainstream success.
Instead of being stuck in the past, Rock finds himself dominating the present, which likely came on the back of some harsh truths. Let this be a lesson for all of you with upcoming rappers as friends: don't lie to them.
Sometimes, that shit is wack.