Jay Rock's "Redemption" story launches him into the mainstream
Top Dawg Entertainment has been leading the rap industry by setting the bar as being one of the best record labels in rap. Coming off an award-winning 2017 with the releases of DAMN & CTRL, the crew decided to go double or nothing this year, and what better way to start off the takeover then with one of the OGs of the crew, Jay Rock.
Rock released his third album Redemption after a more-than-two-year hiatus after his sophomore album 90059 and the aftermath of his motorcycle accident. King’s Dead, which served as one of the lead singles for the Black Panther soundtrack, is also the lead single for Redemption, along with the song WIN, a play off of TDE's current "Championship tour" theme. With his life mantra exclaimed proudly on the song - “Win Win Win Win/Fuck everything else/ Win Win Win Win,” - he reminds listeners why his words still hold value.
Redemption is unique compared to its predecessor thanks to a healthy mix of modern mainstream production & the true essence of Rock's artistry - gangsta rap. The balance is evident on up-tempo records like Rotation 112th, Knock It Off, & Tap Out. One of the fun standout records on the album is Wow Freestyle. We listen as Eastside Johnny & Cornrow Kenny take it back to when Top had the Red Charger going bar-for-bar over an energetic Hit Boy production. With more friendly production and catchier hooks, day one TDE fans and newcomers alike can enjoy the album. I’d say that is a “Win-Win” if you ask me.
There’s also some introspective songs on the album. Rock raps alongside J-Cole on OSOM where he influences listeners to create an idea of what paranoia feels like. Along with SZA’s beautiful chorus and K-Dot's background vocals, Rock paints an image on the song Redemption of what his funeral would've been like had he not survived his motorcycle accident. This feels like Rock’s second chance at showcasing to the world that he deserves as much love as the rest of the TDE camp. He’s known to all the day ones as the first artist that started it off with TDE. He sacrificed and went through trial and error at the beginning stages of the label, which in the long run helped his team reach the current positions they’re in now. Because of that ultimate sacrifice, it's helped Rock mature as an artist and as a person.
Overall, Redemption is a dynamic story of what second chances can do to those who take advantage of it. Even dropping amongst big names like Nas and The Carters, Redemption still holds its own as a standout album that could potentially be one of the top hip-hop albums of 2018.