Jay Rock

posted July 09, 2009 12:00:00 AM CDT | 32 comments

Born and raised in L.A.’s Nickerson Gardens Projects, Jay Rock [born Johnnie McKenzie] proudly proclaims, “I represent the ghetto.” Expressing his disdain for rappers who seem to care more about image and swagger and less about lyrical talent, Jay Rock is on the fast track to bringing back that rawness that seems to have gotten lost in the shuffle  after Rap became Pop music.

In the media he’s been labeled "the real deal" and even "the last of a dying breed," but Jay is just happy to have finally gotten his big break from the concrete streets to a contract with Warner Brothers. Ready to live up to the tremendous buzz surrounding him through countless cosigns, Jay Rock (whose debut album Follow Me Home is slated to drop this fall) has already collaborated with some of the most recognizable names in the industry including The Game, and Lil Wayne.

Only time will tell in regards to longevity within the Rap game, but for right now, this kid’s got next.

I love [2Pac], N.W.A. [click to read], Ice Cube [click to read], the whole Death Row [Records] --Snoop [Dogg] [click to read] and everybody, Biggie, Scarface [click to read], I love everybody. A lot of oldies too, like The Temptations [laughs]. Even my homies influence me. My big homie Dude Dawg signed me, he made it out the hood and came back and grabbed me outta there too…and of course my mom.

On How His Teenage Poetry Writing Helped Get His Bars Up:[Writing poetry had] a big influence on my rhymes… at the time I was writing poetry; I wasn’t really trying to ‘rap’. It was just expressing myself on paper. As I started feeling Rap, poetry made it easier for me to move over. Poetry got a whole lot of thought to it. More emotion goes into it too—so I think it helped me a lot.

On Working With Lil Wayne:There was an L.A. concert- I grabbed a few of my dudes and rolled backstage. We weren’t concerned about the show, wanted to see the artists and make some connections, you know? We ended up out by the tour buses after and I saw [Lil] Wayne [click to read]. I told him straight up ‘I’m the new nigga in the city. I need you on a track’. He was like ‘Whatever you need, I got you’. Wayne…he’s a real nigga. He could've given me a fake number, but he didn’t. He looked out for me, like ‘Call me when you ready.’ I gave him a call and we made it happen.

Wayne inspires me. Seeing how he go in—he works like he hasn’t made it big yet. That tells me a lot. That tells me I got to go in harder too. If Wayne can still write a rhyme a day, I need to be writing two or three a day. [Laughs] I need to be hustlin’ and doing it

On What It Means To “Represent The Ghetto”:It means telling the ghetto stories that public doesn’t know about. We getting’ beat down in the hood, that’s why we hustling and killing. I tell the real about what’s going on. The 10 o’clock news talks about kittens stuck in trees, and how the firefighters had to come and rescue it….but meanwhile two of my homies got shot and its nowhere on the news. Niggas is dying and it never makes the news.

When you rep your hood, you gotta rep it right. It’s about telling the stories so people know what’s really going on.

On Having A Black President:
[Barack Obama is] making a change…a little bit…but we still struggling. The change is gonna be when people aren’t struggling, ‘cause that will take away from some of the violence. People won’t be as violent when they aren’t struggling to survive. It’s still a struggle now, but [having the first black President] is big for us and I'm happy…I hope it does end up making a big change.

On His Affiliation With The Bloods’ Street Gang: "In a way It helps me because I’m letting a lot of Blood niggas and Crip niggas to see that you can make it out the hood. I’m an entrepreneur and I’m trying to own part of my hood. You can get out and make it. On the flip side, when I rap about what’s going on people might think I’m promoting gang violence. Sometimes keeping it really hurts my career ‘cause [the listener] can’t handle what’s really going on.

I’m not on no gang banging shit no more. I’m on some let’s make money and get out the hood shit. I don’t really have money like that yet, but I’m helping my hood as much as I can. There was a woman in my hood who was $4,000 behind on her rent—I paid it off for her so she wouldn’t get evicted and be on the streets.  I’m always gonna be affiliated with the Bloods—it’s in my heart. It’s gonna always be part of me. But I’m not part of the violence. I’m not trying to beat down another black man—or any man, really. But this Blood/CripGlasses Malone [click to read], a bunch of us, we all trying to bridge the gap. We got big homies that’s behind you too. It don’t make sense. We fighting over turf we don’t even own. If you gonna fight over territory, someone should at least own the shit first. You can rep—you can be a Blood and you can be a Crip- but you can still be cool.
shit is mostly black on black crime."

On What To Expect From The New Album:
I got some real shit on my album. I’ve been working hard on it and it’s been changing as I grow…and I’ve been growing a lot. Right now, everybody’s trying to find the next Soulja Boy [click to read]. That ain’t a diss; that’s just not what I’m on. I’m going back to N.W.A. when they sold millions without much radio play. I’m going to the streets. Every hood. No Hollywood shit, no club shit. My album is for the hood. I’m here to feed them how they supposed to be fed."

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