Strangely Enough, Desiigner May Be New York’s Answer

 

Desiigner_TIC_10_fdigv0

“I got broads in Atlanta, blah blah bluh blah blah da jamma…” And whatever else he said.  Those are some lyrics from Desiigner’s new single Panda.  And this is where we are in hip hop now – experimenting with various and often unorthodox melodies, spitting inaudible lyrics, and more often than not, adopting another region or artist’s sound, or as the kids call it, riding someone’s wave. This is the case for Brooklyn rapper, Desiigner.  Yes, Brooklyn rapper.  Not Atlanta.  For years New York rappers prided themselves on being original.  They were the models and architects of early hip hop, and even rappers from other parts of the country that were influenced by them made hip hop uniquely their own, but in today’s world originality isn’t valued as much as being a really good carbon copy.

It seems as though no one truly knows the direction that music is taking.  Ten years ago who would’ve ever thought the south would still have great influence over the sound of hip hop.  The Internet has played a major role in the South’s staying power, too.  It has also helped to democratize the music industry, by giving unknown artists the “world” as a platform to popularize music that normally wouldn’t get any radio spins.  Today the Internet has become a main source in how we access music to the point that it dictates what we gravitate to sonically.

In the summer of 2014 now incarcerated Brooklyn rapper, Bobby Shmurda released Hot N*gga, a song laden with graphic lyrics and murderous exploits of Brooklyn street life. It carried with it a beat that was so catchy it desensitized you from its grim reality. Hot N*gga had New York on fire.  In bars, in barbershops, blasting from cracked windows onto Brooklyn streets in the summer; young kids, women, to men in there 40’s were doing the Shmoney dance.  It was as though the city of New York finally had something they could be proud of.  Besides the local slang, sonically, Hot N*gga was another branch in the larger foliage of trap music – Atlanta music. Radio airwaves in the past 10 or so years have been so inundated with the same sound that it comes to no surprise that people’s fondness of Hot N*gga was probably grown more out of familiarity.

Hot N*gga is very telling about New York and how they’ve had to adapt to what’s popular even if it calls for them to be less New York and more south, or more west coast.  Unfortunately in late 2014, New York authorities felt that Shmurda’s lyrics about what he’d allegedly done in the streets were all too real, and his GS9 crew was arrested on a list of charges ranging from conspiracy to murder.  GS9 members were apprehended at a Manhattan recording studio, and taken out in chains in front of a bevy of flashing news cameras in a very public display of, “We’re gonna make examples out of these hooligans,” media circus.  And for a while after that New York was relatively silent.

Democratizing the music industry has had its upsides, like artists being able to be successful without a record label, but it’s also had its downsides like, anything unworthy becoming the latest trends, and music listeners becoming agnostic to what quality music is, opting to be zombies to whatever is “hot.”  And nowadays the word quality is relative.  One thing that’s for sure is that because the Internet is so vast and serves as a source of incalculable information, you don’t have to come up with anything yourself you can just get all your creativity from the Internet. So, anyone can become someone else’s clone.  As a result of this, the Future trend of hip hop music is Desiigner.

Desiigner is New York’s new wave.  His first single, Panda, was re-released on iTunes this February to many comparisons to Atlanta rapper and mumbling-crooner, Future Hendrix.  In fact, Desiigner sounds more like Future than Future.  When I heard Panda for the first time I thought I was nodding my head to a new song on a Freebandz mixtape.  Interestingly enough, people didn’t seem to care much that Future was being cloned, which means that if an artist can outright clone another artist’s sound without much of an uproar then that sound was probably always microwaved for mass production.  This is great for an up and comer like Desiigner, but terrible for Future. Because anyone can mimic that sound, it doesn’t matter who does it as long as it sounds familiar.

This truth creates a cozy space for an artist like Desiigner, who is signed to Kanye West’s GOOD Music.  Currently, Panda is the number one single in the country, a feat that Future has yet to accomplish.  Although it’s important to note that Future’s Dirty Sprite 2 recently went platinum, the Desiigner wave continues to grow. Desiigner is in the lab now working on his first studio album, Life of Desiigner, which is alleged to be executive produced by Grammy-Award winning producer Mike Dean.  Dean is no slouch, as he has produced albums for Kanye West including, Late Registration, Graduation, and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

If Desiigner makes a good album it means a couple of things…

  1. The Future comparisons won’t even matter anymore.
  2. And New York finally has someone, to the world’s surprise, who can actually restore the feeling.

For my Air Force 1 wearing, durag rocking, throwback jersey New Yorkers, restoring the feeling may not look like we expected.  Riding the wave of Atlanta seems to be the answer.  If Desiigner plays his cards right he’ll milk this game for every single dime that it’s worth until his wave surfaces.  At that point, by happenstance or some miracle, the New York resurgence can possibly open the door to some New York originality.

Listen to Panda – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5ONTXHS2mM

© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2016

Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group

Twitter @SavoyMediaGroup

Email: writingbattleraphistory@gmail.com

Blog: writingbattleraphistory.wordpress.com

#WBRH

 

Posted in Entertainment, Hip Hop, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Letter2Shine (Analysis)

Daylyt, courtesy of HipHopDX.com

Daylyt, courtesy of HipHopDX.com

Just when you think you’re over Daylyt and his antics he reminds you, in a way that only he can, that he is equipped with the gift of verse, when he drops battle bars like he does in his latest diss record to NWX, “Rainy Day” Letter2Shine.  Unlike many diss records, Day kills you softly with his subtle, ironic humor.  Letter2Shine has a subsequent build up of sophisticated wordplay and double entendres that use Rain as one big metaphor, for what seems to implicate partial blame, for the reason that the sun-Shine has left Dot Mobb.

In between the larger metaphor are mentions of others from both Dot Mobb and NWX that are intertwined in the beef.  Light jabs are thrown instead of big landing punches, almost as if Day is agitating the situation by purposely not being a thunderstorm but rather a constant leaking roof.  What I like about Day’s approach is that he used this as another opportunity to troll.  Shine made it crystal clear that he doesn’t care for Daylyt. So, how does Day respond?  In a Letter2Shine, he assumes the position of a desperate friend pleading for his boy who has gone astray to come back home.  What he’s done is pretty genius.  Manipulating a sort of reverse psychology, he has turned Shine’s dismissal of him into a mockery.

The tension between Shine and Dot Mobb has little do with Day, yet he’s managed to put himself in the middle of it.  Day is a master at successfully exploiting a situation to his advantage. He recently stated on Angryfan’s Radio that he is taking a sabbatical from battle rap to tour and pursue his music, so who knows what he’s cooking up for the future. With Daylyt placing himself at the forefront as the only mouthpiece for Dot Mobb in this unpredictable family drama, it remains to be seen if Murda Mook or T-Rex will have any response.

“Rainy Day” Letter2Shine audio <—————- click here 

© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2015

Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group

Twitter @SavoyMediaGroup

Email: writingbattleraphistory@gmail.com

Blog: writingbattleraphistory.wordpress.com

#WBRH

Posted in Angryfan, battle rap, Daylyt, Dot Mobb, Hip Hop, K-Shine, Murda Mook, music, NWX, T-Rex | Leave a comment

Bigg K’s 3rd Round KO

Bigg-K-vs-The-saurus-8.jpg

Bigg K

Wheeew!  When you talk about things that are revealing you have to talk about Bigg K’s third round against Math Hoffa at GO-Rilla Wafare’s, The Crown 2 event in Chicago.  For a while now, Math has been under a dark cloud of scrutiny for his role as the Biff of battle rap.  Punching, pistol whipping, and shoving his way through the fray of rappers, he found his notoriety and solace in his power to intimidate people.  Although I believe Math would have objections to this, it is true that his fist throwing in the ring is what he’s most famous for.  Bigg K wouldn’t disagree, either.  His knock out round was structured to expose Math of this truth, and then some.

We don’t need to go into depth about Math’s fights – how he made it to Worldstar after punching Dose, or how he helped to ruin Summer Madness 3 when he unexpectedly socked Serius Jones, leaving him disoriented.  However, we will analyze his last fight with Dizaster, the fight that put his career at a crossroads.  Last year at a KOTD event in Los Angeles Math was blindsided by an all out attack initiated by Diz.  Prior to their battle, the two had been publicly feuding in heated exchanges via social media, but that all came to a head that day.

The pummeling that Math took by Diz and his cronies was disturbing, to the say the least.  Two things that surely came of this were discussions about violence in battle rap, and about Math.  As a fan you felt torn between sympathizing with him and feeling like he got what he deserved.  Although the beating was unwarranted, and stunk of suspicion on whether or not the whole thing was a setup, it left Math like we have never seen him before – vulnerable.

A huge part of Math’s identity in battle rap is that he puts fear in his opponents, but when the fear is gone how do we as fans identify with him?  For years the bully role has been his safe haven, resting assured that if he can’t win lyrically he can out bully you.  In that one moment in Los Angeles that all but vanished – poof, vamoose, and however unfair the fight was, it was as though he lost a large portion of the bravado that once puffed chest with boisterous pride.

Dizaster (l) & Math Hoffa (r)

It wasn’t all-bad for Math.  Defenseless and bare to the elements of persecution, the forlorn bully eventually made his way back into the good graces of a few league owners and got an opportunity to battle emcees like Crome on O-Zone, a great battle with Chilla Jones on Don’t Flop, and on GO-Rilla Warfare, Bigg K.  K is a battle rapper’s battle rapper.  He’s one of those white boys that embodies so much effortless-ghetto, that unless you’re reminded, you forget that he’s white.

Finally, a perfect match for Math that was long overdue, and probably delayed because of all the bull surrounding him, he locked horns in Chicago with K in a highly intense battle. K started off in typical fashion, gunning for Math’s head with punch line after punch line. Jabbing here and jabbing there, K’s bars fell softly on the sleepy crowd until the second round when he landed a mean punch, when he said, “How you lick the doo-doo maker ‘til you pass out, and then go to your crib and kiss your kids with that mouth? Sh*t stains on your tongue like, hold these youngin’. I flew all the way to the Chi I’m about to Cochise something.” Throughout the battle Math didn’t seem poised like you’re used to seeing him. He’s usually the puppeteer tugging at his opponents emotional strings, even though he gets into his feelings and becomes volatile sometimes, he’s usually the starter and the finisher. This time he looked defeated, not because K was tougher than him, but because of his response to the crowd’s reaction to K’s rounds. When it was Math’s turn to rap it was like he was playing catch up to go the distance to meet K’s rounds. I wondered why Math was taking this to heart but apparently him and K were close at one point, and though I don’t know the particulars of their relationship, things got very personal in the third.

Stop acting like you the only one that’s been through something. This world is f*cked up. It’s sad but it’s true. What goes around comes around; we get back what we do…At this point in life just be happy you exist. You got snuffed. So what! Now, stop acting like a b*tch.” This is how K started off his third round – strong, to the point, and wound opening. Let me press play again so you can listen some more. “You think you’re bigger than battle rap, that’s how I know you’re corny. If it wasn’t for battle rap I wouldn’t know your story. That’s why you popped your hubcaps on a road to glory, and you plotting a comeback when you’re close to forty.” Math’s retort was far less impactful and in the beginning of his third he stumbled for moment while trying to gather his words. It was like K knocked the wind out of him and he had to recuperate, so he did what most black battle rappers do when their backs are against the wall when battling a white guy. They pull the race card. Now, I’m not opposed to talking about injustices and racism as it relates to black people, but this was clearly a below-the-belt tactic to get out of losing. There were a few laughs and sporadic cheers, but none as enthusiastic as the roars that came from the crowd when K was breaking Math down.

There was no genuine love between the two, or any sportsman-like gestures of appreciation when it was over. It actually turned into a short spat in front of everyone, where Math was clearly disheartened, claiming that K and other so-called friends aren’t on his side in this beef between him and Diz. At this point in his career, Math is out there on his own. The Brooklyn role is washed up, and fans have moved on to the new bullies on the block, and new waves in battle rap. You can say a part of this is his cross to bear, as he has clearly been the bully his whole battle career. Another way of looking at this is that Math has an opportunity to redefine himself in this current landscape, which is not a bad thing, because you can’t be a bully forever.

Bigg K vs Math Hoffa 3rd round audio  <—— click here

© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2015

Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group

Twitter @SavoyMediaGroup

Email: writingbattleraphistory@gmail.com

Blog: writingbattleraphistory.wordpress.com

#WBRH

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Disconnecting the Dots

T-Rex (r) - K-Shine (l)

T-Rex (l) – K-Shine (r) (screenshots from YouTube)

K-Shine is on a roll this year.  After teaming up with NWX and forming a battle rap duo with DNA, his career has soared to new heights.  A while ago we thought of Shine as the mouthy, pop-off-at-any-moment, Scrappy of the Dot Mob kennel.  Always quick to jump in someone’s face when defending his honor like in that unforgettable trash talking video with Tsu Surf a few years back.  He was always impressive with his aggressive approach to battling but he always seemed to fall under the shadow of Murda Mook and T-Rex’s legacies as a postscript – like, p.s., Shine is also here with us and he raps, too. Being on an intermediate level in the food chain was never an intentional slight to Shine’s talent, it’s just that in the familial nature of his relationship with Dot Mob, that endears its members as family rather than rap-friends, the order of things is big brother then little brother.

The legendary Dot Mob, as founding member T-Rex would so eloquently put it, is by many accounts, the most dangerous crew in battle rap history.  They are not large in numbers like Team Homi – Dot Mob only has six active members.  With Murda Mook at the helm, T-Rex, K-Shine, Tay Roc, Daylyt, and D.O T., four out of the six members are on every major card, from URL, to KOTD, to RBE.  Not only that, but four, maybe even five out of the six can easily be in your top five at any given time.  T-Rex has appeared on all five Summer Madness events, a feat that only has been accomplished by him.  However, beneath the surface Rex is probably the most polarizing figure in Dot Mob.

Murda Mook & T-Rex

Murda Mook & T-Rex (courtesy of Zimbio.com)

Pulled from under the veil of Murda Mook’s celebrity is the backbone of Dot Mob,  T-Rex.  Truthfully, if it weren’t for him we would have forgotten about this crew a long time ago.  After Mook said he was retiring a few years ago, Rex kept the name alive at a time when battle rap legends were hanging up their boots in pursuit of more lucrative endeavors.  At every event he’d incorporate “Dot Mob” in his battles.  When battle rappers used to make their own blogs their Rex was reminding us who was the dominant crew.  When Mook was out of the picture Rex was the HNIC and ran a tight ship.  He helped scout new prospects like Shine, Roc, and Daylyt, but of all the newer members his bond with K-Shine stands out.

Rex has known Shine since he was eight or nine years old, they are both from Harlem and share a lot of the same personality traits, and they used to even finish each others lines in battles.   It’s obvious from Rex’s brotherly displays of embrace that him and Shine are close like Tango & Cash or even Mike Lowrey and Marcus’ friendship in Bad Boys.  To put it plain, 3 Letterman said in a blog about his assessment of Rex and Shine’s relationship, that Rex wouldn’t have felt as slighted by a departure from other crew members like Roc or Daylyt because its not like he knew them for half of their lives.

K-Shine joining NWX was a risky move because of the history that T-Rex has with some of their members, namely, Big-T.  It leaves K-Shine in a precarious position to straddle the fence, pledging his allegiance to NWX while still screaming Dot Mob.  Now that the lines between friend and foe have become ambiguous you are uncharacteristically seeing members from Dot Mob like Tay Roc lash out publicly at Shine.  It makes you wonder what’s beneath the surface because Shine would’ve had to leave unceremoniously in order to team up with the competition, right?

Rex’s feelings about Shine’s decision to join forces with NWX became clear when Heavy Bags interviewed him on 15 Minutes of Fame.  Rex appeared a bit foggy and caught off guard by Shine’s move.  He couldn’t honestly say whether Shine was still apart of Dot Mob or not.  “I talked to Shine for the first time in a long time.  He say he a Dot forever but his movements is looking different,” Rex bewilderedly said.  He was obviously hurt and confused, and to be fair I can understand why.  The way Rex views loyalty is the way guys from the streets view their loyalty to the game – till death do us part, and anything below that decree is blasphemous.

Here’s where it gets interesting because this is where Rex’s version of loyalty doesn’t mix with Shine wanting to grow.  You can’t meet the apex of your potential and be expected to live out the ordinances of that kind of loyalty.  Its rigidity binds your growth with its many restrictions.  A couple of years ago Shine’s career plateaued.  It seemed as though he had peaked too soon and the best of Shine was over.  Since he’s been with NWX his career has made a resurgence, his skill level has evolved, and more importantly, he’s not in Rex’s shadow anymore.

According to Rex, in that same interview he said, “Dot Mob would do so much for you.  How could you even think about ever trying to go do anything else when there is nothing we wouldn’t do for you?”  Rex is absolutely right about one thing.  He would do anything for Shine or any other member in Dot Mob because that’s who he is.  He’s so much like that that he prizes Shine as his possession.  He proudly said in the interview that he raised Shine.  The subtext in that statement is – that’s my son.  It seems as though one of the problems with these two is that the nature of their relationship never changed.  K-Shine is not eight years old anymore.  He has developed his own vision, with bigger ambitions and broader dreams, that he naturally wants to explore.  K-Shine is a young man now, and you can’t continue to son a man.

Vintage Dot Mob – The Bad Guyz (when Dot Mob was Dot Mob) 

© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2015

Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group

Twitter @SavoyMediaGroup

Email: writingbattleraphistory@gmail.com

Blog: writingbattleraphistory.wordpress.com

#WBRH

Posted in battle rap, Hip Hop, Murda Mook, music, ratchet | Leave a comment

Star Power

Cortez’s recent battle with Philly legend, Cyssero, on URL’s Summer Madness was nothing short of a great performance, especially as it relates to Cortez.  This should be very encouraging for him because for the past few years Cortez has been the poster child for shit throwing.  Though, this is not his fault entirely, it is an unfortunate truth.

A few years ago I wrote an article on the Brooklyn battler, Cortez’s Uphill Battle, and explained that it seemed as though no matter how good he was he just didn’t have that “it-factor.” I was convinced back then that he didn’t possess the spirit of an All-American champion that you find on a box of Wheaties.  That was two years ago, and after a slew of battles, some good and some not so good, I’m not convinced anymore that his inability to climb battle rap’s hierarchical ladder rest solely on his shoulders.

The Cyssero battle brought mixed reviews.  For the record, Cortez clearly won, but even in his victory he can’t seem to outlive fan’s denial of his accomplishments – just read the comments section.  It’s so painfully obvious that even Chris Unbias, someone who has been critical of Cortez in the past, made these same observations.  However, this situation brought me to this question. Are our expectations of battle rappers unreasonable?

Battle rap nowadays makes me think about the music industry and how it works as a conglomerate that attempts to monopolize our thinking on how music should be heard or what we as consumers should be listening to.  This sound is hot.  This isn’t hot.  This is alternative.  This sound doesn’t make money.  Believe me, I get it.  It’s a business and businesses have to make money, but who we make stars isn’t always about talent as much as it is about a bottom line.  For this reason battle rap concerns me because we’ve become a microcosm of the industry that we claim to dislike.

“If it ain’t on URL it don’t count,” is the moniker we use to tier the value of battles and battle rappers.  It’s almost as if to say, “if it ain’t platinum it don’t count,” or, “if it ain’t on the radio it don’t count.” If this sounds eerily familiar it should.  It echoes the tyranny of corporatization and how it has helped to microwave the quality of music into formularized, prepackaged material. Because of this, the URL has inadvertently become the unofficial “corporation” of the battle rap industry. URL is the machine by which all must be tested to have some kind of credible standing in this field – or at least that’s what’s being pushed on us. This account does have some validity. P. Diddy, Busta Rhymes, Drake, Jada Kiss, and even Kevin Durant frequent or have been to URL events. No other league can pull this off like the URL and that’s a fact.

URL wasn’t the first league in battle rap but they are the league that proclaims to be the best, and many would agree. Because fans have placed URL on a pedestal it’s hard for them to value anything outside of it on the same level. That being said, by this same standard, any battle rapper that enters this league and doesn’t have “star-quality,” not talent, to compete with URL “star” battlers, will soon find themselves slipping into a barrage of fan hate mail, and ultimately into oblivion – unless, of course, you’re a “star.” For example, Harlem-legend, T-Rex got washed by Charlie Clips, clearly beaten by Danny Myers, and arguably beaten by newcomer, T-Top, all in a row, and because he’s “Rex” to fans it doesn’t matter because he’s insured by star-power. Star power in battle rap is the Holy Grail. It protects your status when you lose, or when you can’t even rap.  It’s a license to do anything without severe consequences.

What sucks about us chasing after the stars is that we’ve forgotten how to enjoy a good battle. Our expectations have become like that of a music executive who only wants hit after hit, after hit, no matter how diluted the music is. Then we tend to forget about people who actually put out good work because we’ve conditioned our ear to hear a certain tune.

The hypocrisy of the standards by which we judge battle rappers like Cortez is that we say we want someone with bars, metaphors, stories, punches, stage presence, someone who is anti-industry, but what we really want is a star with that “it-factor,” whatever that is, whose appeal is defined, outlined, and pushed on to us by the industry. Although Cortez is a URL rapper, fans judge his star power based on a URL measuring stick, which for him and others like him is unfortunate, because they will always find a reason not to like him.

Cortez vs Cyssero – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-qkYxqtPZg

© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2015

Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group

Twitter @SavoyMediaGroup

Email: writingbattleraphistory@gmail.com

Blog: writingbattleraphistory.wordpress.com

#WBRH

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dave East | Hate Me Now | #AlbumReview

IFWT_dave_east

Album Rating System 3 1/2 out of 5 records

Image    Image Imagehalf record copy

Dave East, a Nas protégé, and new East Harlem up and comer, is an upgraded facsimile of what the streets of New York once were 20 years ago. Going through Hate Me Now is a ride through the past when mixtapes were king, and artists were postured to relevancy based on its success. Hate Me also has the normal offbeat, free-flowing rhyme cadence that ‘s pinnacle to East Coast hip-hop. In Get Acquainted, an aggressive, don’t-f*ck-with-me track that was probably made to solidify his street status to those who may doubt him, East raps in the chorus, “Figured I would trap until I made it. Two pistols on me, we could get acquainted.”

Being Nas’ pick for the next one in line comes with its perks. For a mixtape and a new artist he has a great line-up of features ranging from Jadakiss, Styles P, Pusha T, Mack Wilds, Nas, and more. His presence on these features is valuable because he doesn’t drown in their stardom. His writing holds it’s own weight juxtaposed with these rap heavyweights and doesn’t disappoint. Though there are no particular life lessons coming from East; he’s lyrical but not conscious like a Kendrick Lamar or a J.Cole, the bulk of Hate Me is braggadocios street music. Unlike his mentor Nas, who was extremely introspective and sensitive enough to capture the heartbeat of the streets, East seems to lack this quality, which brings a certain amount of gloom over his writing that could potentially be overlooked if he were able to make his experiences relatable to the casual listener.

There are also other good songs like the Nas assisted Forbes List, Numb, Give It To Her, and KD. In I Can’t Complain featuring Pusha T you relive the glory of the early 2000s and its illustrious metaphors like when Pusha raps “Champagne rains on your main b*tch. The SLS doors do the crane kick.”

Hosted by DJ Drama, Hate Me echoes remnants of the past when New York hip-hop was on top. For some it may seem this is where Hate Me ends, with East trying to “restore the feeling” of New York’s old sound, but what becomes apparent is that East’s story is kin to the street folklore of the 90’s, repackaged into a conversation that is relevant today.

Download Hate Me Now here – http://www.datpiff.com/Dave-East-Hate-Me-Now-mixtape.734610.html 

© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2015

Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group

Twitter @SavoyMediaGroup

Email: writingbattleraphistory@gmail.com

Blog: writingbattleraphistory.wordpress.com

#WBRH

Posted in Hip Hop, Illmatic, music, Nas | Leave a comment

Jay Rock – #90059 #AlbumReview

Album Rating System 4 out of 5 records

Image    Image Image Image

90059 is a zip code in South Los Angeles that encompasses parts of Watts, a historically black neighborhood once famous for being the city’s center of African-American culture, but in recent years has been marked by riots and gang warfare.   Growing up in Nickerson Gardens, Jay Rock has been boxed in his whole life; a 1054 unit public housing stretch in the center of Watts that extends about a quarter square mile, where rival gangs thwart the Nicks on all sides, so to produce anything out-of-the-box is purely a miracle.

While watching his label mates produce cornerstone albums in Hip Hop, Rock has been forced to grow as an artist, because of this he channels a newfound freedom in his delivery. Stepping out of his traditional hard-core rigidity, his delivery has more versatility and inflection than it has in the past. In Easy Bake it almost seems as though he’s having a goodtime on the track. Though I’m pretty sure he has fun making music, the comfort in his voice is very apparent, and oddly auspicious. Usually gangsta rappers sound awkward deviating from anything that’s “gangsta”, but in Rock’s case, he marries his creativity and his gangster-ism perfectly.

Taking a four-year break since his debut album, Follow Me Home, Rock’s subject matter has extended considerably. The third track, Gumbo, is a prime example. “Have you ever put your hand over fire just to see what you could tolerate? And you can find no escape. Life is a dominatrix waiting for sh*t to pollinate, to make you mind your mistakes,” Rock raps. That’s poetry. A rose growing out of the cracks of cement on the streets of Watts is the kind of introspection that Rock is personifying.

Hearing the title track, 90059, for the first time is jarring. His voice disrupts your sanity with a shrill, cacophonous hook in the first few seconds of the song that makes you cut your eyes at first listen. After a few times it grows on you and begins to make sense when you understand that the raucous hook is a reference to the infamous zip code.  90059 has one of the highest crime rates in the city of Los Angeles. To illustrate Rock’s experience more clearly he raps, “Bullets have a name defined by different calibers. Concrete jungle, beware of different challengers. Gotta have the stomach for dookie bags and catheters. Play your cards right or be scratching off them calendars.”

Unlike many albums in this era of music that have numerous collaborations, all of Rock’s guest features are calculated, and even artists with more star power like, Busta Rhymes and Kendrick Lamar, don’t overpower Rock. The long awaited reunion of Black Hippy, the Hip Hop quartet featuring, Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Rock, on Vice City doesn’t disappoint, either. It makes you wonder what’s taking them so long to make a Black Hippy album?

In Michael Rapaport’s 2011 documentary, Beats, Rhymes, and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest, there is a part in the film where Phife Dawg’s emergence as a lyrical force is recognized by everyone on the group’s 1991 album, The Low End Theory. 90059 is Jay Rock’s emergence as a key figure in the house of TDE. Not just a big brother who was the first artist signed to the label anymore, he’s now a marquis strike-up on the wall with the other west coast greats.

Download 90059 here – https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/90059/id1031704250

© Copyright Eddie Savoy Bailey III, 2015

Written by: Eddie Bailey of The Savoy Media Group

Twitter @SavoyMediaGroup

Email: writingbattleraphistory@gmail.com

Blog: writingbattleraphistory.wordpress.com

#WBRH

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment