Jay Rock tells us about his journey up to here, his trials and tribulations, being signed to Warner Music, leaving the major label and finally aligning with the number one independent rapper in the world, Tech N9ne.
We also talk about the whole Top Dawg Ent movement, the incredible success that Kendrick Lamar has been experiencing, his plans for the future and much more.
Jay Rock: It's your boy Jay Rock, Watts Finest, Top Dawg Ent, Strange Music! Right here at the Top Dawg headquarters where we get it in, house of pain. What it do?
Dubcnn: You've been one of the artists we've been pushing on dubcnn for a couple of years now and --
Jay Rock: I appreciate the love man, 112%, coming from me. Ya'll been holding me down forever, since the beginning, ya'll been holding me and my team down and we really appreciate that shit. Real talk, straight up.
Dubcnn: It's been interesting to watch you come up ever since "Lift Me Up" came out all the way to you signing with Strange Music. I wanna get right into it, people wanna know, what's up with the album?
Jay Rock: The album is coming (July 26th 2011), Follow Me Home, make sure ya'll be on the look out for it. I got my boys on that thing, Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, also my in-house producers Sounwave, Willie B, we got Justice League, E.P., Dae One, everybody doing their thang. It's gonna be a classic album. I'm telling you, ya'll gonna enjoy what you hear, I know all the fans have been waiting for it and the haters are like "Nah he ain't dropping!" Fuck the haters, trust and believe it's coming, for all my fans that's been holding me down since day one.
Dubcnn: You're the second West Coast artist that Tech picked up after Brotha Lynch. That worked out well for Lynch, how has the chemistry been with you and the Strange camp?
Jay Rock: It's been all love since day one, since I met Tech. I've always been a fan of Tech's music and when he came out here to L.A. I finally had the privilege to meet him at one of his videos, shouts out to Oriol Esteban for even calling me out.
Dubcnn: You talking about "Like Yeah"?
Jay Rock: Yeah! He introduced me to him and it's been a wrap, we've been tight ever since then. I didn't even know Tech N9ne was a fan of my music, he was like "I love that Lift Me Up and All My Life, that goes!" I couldn't believe that! Coming from a legend, especially an independent artist like that who's been doing his thing forever, to tell me he's been a fan of my music was a blessing. We clicked up like that, Kutt Kalhoun, Krizz Kaliko, Big Scoop, Brotha Lynch, we all hung out at the House Of Blues, chopped it up and became family. It's all love.
Dubcnn: Is the sound of the music going to remain the same or are you going to have that Strange Music signature sound?
Jay Rock: Music is music, regardless. I just do music that the people love, that my fans love and I just do real human music. You can't really put no category on it, I just go off the mind off the heart when I go in the booth and the fans love it. me and Tech got it in on a couple of records, he's on the album, I got this record with me and Tech that's so crazy. When ya'll cop the album you're goon hear that crazy record. I'm also on Tech's new album coming out. Make sure ya'll get it!
Dubcnn: Yeah I also heard the song with Kendrick and Tech and Oobergeek, "I Love Music"?
Jay Rock: Yeah! I love music, that go right there. Tech bussin' on that, Kendrick was bussin' on that, they went hard! That was for the real Hip-Hop fans out there that really love music. That's what we do, we really love this shit, we don't stop.
Dubcnn: I remember you first telling me about your little homie K.Dot about 4 years ago. How do you feel about the way he came up when you see where he's at right now?
Jay Rock: I'm telling you, it's a blessing man. We all grew together, we were together at the time when I was going through my situation with Warner Brothers and everything, he was always with me. He was with me everywhere I went, that's little bro. I finally broke away from Warner Brothers, got my situation right and I told lil bro "Go! It's your turn, do your stuff. Let the people know who Kendrick Lamar is!" Look at him now. He's one of the hottest young artists out here in L.A. right now as we speak. Dr. Dre hollered at him and wanted to work. It's the music man, we've been in this muthafucka forever going hard and it's good to see him rising like that. That's my lil brother.
Dubcnn: We're at the headquarters right now right?
Jay Rock: Yeah, this is Top Dawg headquarters right here, this is where we do all the magic at, all our stuff is recorded right here. We get it in right here, no sleep. We call this the house of pain. Me, Kendrick, Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul - Black Hippy.
Dubcnn: You just said it: Black Hippy. Why did you decide to come together as a group?
Jay Rock: I wish Ab-Soul was here cause he can really explain it. But basically, we was always in the studio working together, and I guess the Hippy thing came about cause we're free thinkers, we do what we wanna do. Freedom of speech! We don't care what the labels might think or what other people might think about us. We just do what the fuck we wanna do on records. So we just came together as Black Hippy, we do what we wanna do on a track. It's crazy.
Dubcnn: Is Top Dawg Ent going to remain these four artists or are you looking to expand?
Jay Rock: Right now a lot of people want to come in, but next time you see Top Dawg, ask him if he's gonna sign new artists. Right now, we're up here doing what we do, Top Dawg Entertainment, we're rising. It's good to see the world seeing us and seeing what we do.
Dubcnn: Something I've noticed in the last couple of years is that labels have had artists as CEO's. A lot of times that shit don't work, because when the artist is the CEO, interests can conflict at some point. Do you think that TDE having one head, Top Dawg, helped you keep everything together on the business end?
Jay Rock: Top Dawg handles business. We're the artists. You know? We do the music and get it out there to the people. At the same, Top Dawg handles business, because a lot of artists get frustrated trying to handle business and doing this at the same time. It can fuck with their work. What we do is, we're dedicated to our music, we're dedicated to our work and we're dedicated to our fans. Top Dawg handles the business. That's why we're able to do what we do.
Dubcnn: In the last couple of years, you've gone through several transitions. You had the major label situation, that didn't work out. You did it independent and now you're with Strange. What advice would you give somebody trying to come up? What's your view on people still looking for that big major deal?
Jay Rock: Basically, not to down Warner Brothers, because I do thank them for the opportunity to do what I was able to do - shout out to Naim Ali. At the same time, any artists out there, do what's right for you. Whatever your team is, make sure your team is behind you, 112%. Get all the negative shit out, stay positive and do what you wanna do deep down inside your heart. Don't let nobody throw you off your game. It ain't hard, you gotta look at other successful artists that are independent and doing their stuff. Artists like E-40, Tech N9ne. If they can do it, you can do it.