Jay Rock

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About Jay Rock

Dexterous Los Angeles rapper Jay Rock has proven his ability to persevere. Born Johnny Reed McKinzie Jr. 1985 and raised in the gang-riddled Nickerson Gardens housing project in the neighborhood of Watts, he got caught up in the streets himself before his talent and distinctively deep voice caught the attention of Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith. In 2005, Jay Rock became the first artist of Top Dawg Entertainment as Tiffith mentored him and a young Kendrick Lamar. As TDE evolved into an indie powerhouse with ScHoolboy Q and Ab-Soul's concurrent successes, the four rappers formed the supergroup Black Hippy; meanwhile, Jay dropped his 2011 debut album, Follow Me Home, on indie legend Tech N9ne's Strange Music. It was back to TDE for 2015's 90059, an emotionally earnest LP that introduced him to new fans by expanding on his gruff, commanding street identity with cinematic storytelling, a wider range of production, and willingness to experiment with melody. But his momentum was jeopardized when a nearly fatal dirt bike accident in 2016 left him bruised both physically and mentally. He returned strong in 2018: He contributed to the TDE-helmed Black Panther soundtrack with "King's Dead" (featuring Kendrick, Future, and James Blake) and released his third album, Redemption, which reflects on his second chance at life (the single "Win" triumphantly celebrates his survival). Still, he wonders aloud if the accident was karma for his street sins, and he stirringly imagines his funeral. Fortunately for his fans, his TDE crew, and L.A. rap aficionados, Jay Rock survived––and he's unlikely to ever take his life, or his music, for granted.

Los Angeles, CA, United States
March 31, 1986

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