I vibed out Jay Rock’s 90059 album listening session (Aug 16). Read on to feel like you were there with me.
The attendees enter as Schoolboy Q’s “Titty Ass” plays. The smell of French fries hits my nose, although there are none to be found in the red-lit, wood floored, white walled space. The small group of people invited swarms the Hennessy sponsored drink stand. Brown liquor in hand, the invitees make themselves at home in the Sonos Studio space; some standing in the back of the room, others lounging in the grouping of beanbags near the small stage.
After an hour of mingling, Real 92.3’s Letty hits the stage and the smell of French fries wafts from the green room as Jay Rock emerges. Dressed down in a plain white tee, grey basketball shorts, and some red Nike shoes, he’s decidedly casual- there to be heard, not seen.
He daps a few key players and makes his way to the front of the room, taking a seat in an ornate brown leather wing back chair. “I’m the first dog off the leash,” he says, confidently calm. When Letty asks him if there’s anything he’d like to say before the album’s intro plays, he simply declares, “Let’s run it!”
The intro track titled “Necessary” fills the room as Jay Rock raps along, the mood transforming as the crowd focuses in on his lyricism. Heads bob in approval. The track outlines the idea that he can, will, and must do anything necessary to survive, setting the tone for the rest of the album.
Whereas Kendrick’s Good Kid Maad City was from the perspective of a “good kid” in a chaotic city, Jay Rock’s 90059 is the story of a rapper from Watts and his participation in the madness of the city in order to survive. Rock’s 90059 is both realistic and hopeful, a perfect balance. “A change is gonna come,” he declares.
Jay Rock’s private demeanor is obvious. He’s saying as little as possible, wanting the lyrics and the tracks to speak for themselves, the narrative is so strong that the listening session barely needs a moderator.
The Hennesy’s hit the systems of the attendees, and the head bobbing has progressed. A small circle forms in the back of the room where those feeling it, vibe out. I stand to the side and become a wallflower, picking up the vibrations pulsing through the plaster.
Everyone around me agrees, “We can’t wait to play this in our cars. Windows down.”
In fact, “Wanna Ride” made me want to do just that. It’s slowed down and vibey, but somehow still a banger. "They say get your money first and foremost…I'm a savage for that bread,” Rock declares.
Thirty minutes into the listening and a Black Hippy track titled “Vice City” entrances the audience. The room is buzzing with excitement and the track receives such positive feedback that they play it again. As the necessary encore begins, Kendrick [Lamar] enters quietly through the back door and slowly dances his way up front. His timing is impeccable. “Vice City” will undoubtedly be a fan favorite.
One of my favorite tracks, “Fly On The Wall” features Busta Rhymes. Busta’s verse is insane, paired with Jay Rock’s signature sound, it’s a definite stand out. This song’s about staying aware and opening your eyes to what’s really going on around you, “When you stand still you can really see it all. Picture your vision like a fly on the wall.”
To close out the listening session, Jay Rock premieres the video for the title track, which features SZA.
The album is scheduled to come out in the next couple of weeks and Is available to pre-order with the album’s tracklisting on iTunes. However, we can never be sure with Jay Rock; he’s mastered the art of anticipation. He’s even said, “Don’t ever let your left know what you right is up to.”
Written by Emily Berkey
Follow Emily on Twitter at @emily_berkey