Back in December of 2006 I had just recently left WestCoastRydaz and came over to Raptalk.net and I needed an interview to make my debut, so I called upon a young rising artist who was starting to make a name for himself on the West Coast – Jay Rock! I was first introduced to his music earlier in the year by my bro Big Wy of The Relativez while at WCRydaz and I was even going to do Rock’s first ever interview one day at the Nickerson Gardens Projects. However, I couldn’t get off work in time and so my fellow WCRydaz partner Big Wy subbed for me that day and did the interview himself. TDE was just starting out and Jay Rock was leading the way as his single “Lift Me Up” was gaining traction around the city.
Rock was the perfect choice as my first Raptalk interview to let everybody know that I wasn’t playing any games over here, and so on a cold December night, I drove out to Carson with my homie Gabino to meet up with Jay at the TDE studios. I remember having trouble finding it at first because it was in the back of a complex and so I wasn’t sure if I was in the right spot – but I was – and I sat down with Jay and we chopped it up about his growing career. Hop back in time to see where a young 20 year old Jay Rock and a new company called Top Dawg Entertainment was at. Oh yeah, Jay also mentions a certain young rising label mate that you might know about ….
Interview by Tim Sanchez
TS: We are sitting here with Jay Rock, one of the hottest new artists out of the West Coast today. He’s definitely a name that you will be hearing more of. Lets just take this from the top homeboy. How are you doing?
Jay Rock: Doing good. What it do? What It Do?
TS: Lets talk about your name. What are its origins and how did you get it?
Jay Rock: I got the name Jay Rock growing up in my hood. I’m a junior, so everybody called me J from that. I’ve got a head that’s long like a knot so everybody also used to call me rock head (laughs). So from there some of my big homies just started calling me Jay Rock for short. A nigga’s been runnin’ with that ever since.
TS: How old are you?
Jay Rock: I’m 20 years old. I’m young and still doing it, ya feel me?
TS: When did you start doing the rap thing?
Jay Rock: I got serious about 4 years ago. That’s when I got serious with it but I’ve always had a thing for music and I was writing little poems since I was young. I’ve always had a thing for rhyming growing up, but yeah I just got serious with it 4 years ago.
TS: Tell us about your style. You’ve got a good flow and you’re very lyrical. The West has gotten a bad rap for many years about both of those things…
Jay Rock: I put my thoughts and everything into it. I can’t be no half assed guy. You gotta go hard. People now in hip-hop are stepping up the bar and so if you are supposed to be an MC, you’ve got to show people that you are an MC and that you can go. My style is just that I put my all into it. I put my everything into it and I don’t want to do no half assed job.
TS: Who does your music? I’ve heard quite a few of your songs and whoever is doing your music has a nice unique touch.
Jay Rock: 4 Quarters! Shout out to 4 Quarters. He’s out of town right now. Our inhouse producer 4th Quarter produced my single “Lift Me Up” that’s playing on the radio right now. I’ve got another in house producer named Soun-Wave. I also work with Kay-Gee from Naughty By Nature.
TS: Wow…that’s a name I haven’t heard for a minute. Anybody else?
Jay Rock: J.R Rotem… and a producer named Neff U. There’s a whole bunch of them.
TS: Lets talk about your song “Lift Me Up”. That’s the song that’s getting you that push right now. K-DAY legend Julio G has taken to this song and has been playing it and now its starting to spread around.
Jay Rock: The basis of the song is that we on the West have been down for a minute, so I had to do something to let everybody know that the West is back. The West Coast is coming back and coming back strong. This song is an introduction of what’s to come. It’s a movement and that song is describing that movement right there.
TS: Do you have a remix planned for this song?
Jay Rock: Oh yeah definitely. I’ve got a remix planned for this song. Gotta look out for that! Its gonna have The Game, Glasses Malone, and Kam. I also want to holla at Crooked I and Omar Cruz. I’m going to be hollerin’ at a lot of people. I like how Game did the One Blood remix and I want this to be like that also. Its a movement. This is the West Coast.
TS: I like the spiritual overtones in the song.
Jay Rock: With the keys? Yeah, its kinda like you are in church.
TS: Also the chorus where its like you are praying to the Father above….
Jay Rock: Yeah, yeah. That was a nice creative touch right there. When people hear that song they know its a movement.
TS: That song does bring that rallying feeling…
Jay Rock: That’s what it is. That’s the whole point of the song, to unite everybody.
TS: Speaking of uniting everybody. What’s your thoughts on how divided it can be out here?
Jay Rock: I don’t like to see it but it is what it is. We’ve all got to come together. I look at down South and they are together, all of them. They all do things together and that’s why they are winning. You turn on the radio and they are taking over the radio. I ain’t downing them or anything like that, but you know, that’s how we’ve got to be. We’ve got to be together and everybody needs to stop hating on each other. All that playa hating shit and all of that bullshit – just let it go. We all got to get together on this shit and do it like we are supposed to do it.
TS: You are from Watts. Tell us about growing up there.
Jay Rock: Aw man, growing up, it was rough. I done seen a lot of shit. From murders to hustling to gangbanging. I lost a lot of homies – some in jail and some in the grave. It was a struggle but I’m blessed. I am sitting here talking to you right now.
TS: What caused you to go away from that path and go on the one you are on right now?
Jay Rock: Like I said earlier, I’ve always had a thing for music. One day its like I was just doing what I do in the streets and people were like, “Come to the studio and do this song.” So I’d go to the studio and get the verses in and then people were like, “You don’t need to be there doing what you are doing. You are talented. You’ve got the voice for it. Why not put that on records, what you are going through? Put how you feel on a record.” I was playing with it like “whatever” until one day my big homie came to me and was like, “I want to put you in the studio. I want to help you out. You don’t need to be out here doing this bullshit. Come to the studio. I don’t want to see that talent go to waste.” So you see me right here now in this studio. I’ve been here ever since. I’ve seen other people make it in this rap business, so why not me?
TS: The company that is behind you is Top Dawg Entertainment. Tell us about the company.
Jay Rock: Top Dawg Entertainment was founded by my big homie Dude Dawg – shouts out to him. Top Dawg is a production and entertainment company. That’s who I got my deal from Warner Bros. through. We are a movement, Top Dawg. Shouts out to my labelmate K.Dot, he’s got a little situation at Def Jam. We are a movement and we are coming. Its a beautiful thing.
TS: Tell us about the Warner Bros. situation…
Jay Rock: Warner Bros. is behind me. We are ready to make some big moves – ready to get it in. Top Dawg is behind me. My niggas are behind me. Warner Bros. is behind me 100 percent. We aren’t taking any losses.
TS: Lets talk about the album you are working on.
Jay Rock: The album is going to be great. Right now I am just trying to finish it up. Basically, I’ve been here in this studio going hard. I might be going through something and I am here putting it on paper. Whatever I am feeling I am putting it on paper. I am here with my boy K.Dot just putting down concepts.
TS: Have you titled your album yet?
Jay Rock: Not yet, but when I do come up with a title, I want something that’s going to hit. It’s untitled right now but look out for it because its going to be here. We are shooting for March.
TS: OK, so March 2007 is the target then….
Jay Rock: March is the target. I am going to try to get it in. Hopefully everything goes right.
TS: Are you going to be dropping any street CD’s or mix-tapes before that time?
Jay Rock: Oh yeah of course. If I am at this studio, I am working on something. It might be for an album or for a mix-tape. This is where I be 24/7. I am working on a mix-tape right now. We are supposed to have DJ Warrior drop it – I hollered at him. Then me and DJ Skee are going to get it in after that. I plan to drop like 3 mix-tapes before the album.
TS: Why don’t you tell us about your relationship with The Game?
Jay Rock: That’s my dude right there. Shouts out to The Game and the whole Black Wall Street. I ran into him a couple of years back before he got his big start. We ran into each other at a mall right about the time his buzz was growing. I seen dude and he’s like, “I’m Game” and I was like, “What’s up my nigga, I’m Jay Rock.” We started talking and then I started flowing and he started flowing back. So I’m flowing, he’s flowing, back and forth like rapid. It wasn’t a battle or anything. I was just showing him that I’m here too. We shook hands on it and we’ve been cool ever since. That’s my nigga right there.
TS: You also have worked with Big Wy of The Relativez. You two did a track together earlier this year.
Jay Rock: Shouts out to Big Wy too. Big Wy did a song with me for my mix-tape called “On Bloods.” We did another one too called “Have Heart”. That’s my homie too right there. He’s given me advice on this rap game. Hopefully me and him can do some more stuff for the mix-tapes or whatever.
TS: Being from a gang neighborhood, how does that affect you and your work in the rap game, especially since its possible to run into some challenging circumstances?
Jay Rock: Whatever you do in the streets, you do in the streets. A nigga is in the music game. Real respect real. I’m a respectable person. You disrespect me and I’m going to disrespect you right back. I don’t really be tripping off all that bullshit. I just look at it like real respect real. I come at people with respect. I am not no disrespectful ass nigga. I’m a man – and a man does what he’s got to do. If someone disrespects you, I know you are going to disrespect them right back. Like my momma says, “You do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. But I don’t be really trippin off the bullshit. Life is too short. People die every day and life is too short.
TS: We’ve covered a lot. Is there anything in particular you want to say or get off your chest?
Jay Rock: Just look out for Jay Rock. I’m here – new nigga out of the West Coast – straight out of the Nickerson Gardens Projects in Watts. Shout out to my boy K.Dot and to Dude Dawg. Big Shouts to the whole camp and to everybody that’s been helping me out and supporting me. Thank you to all of my fans.