"Hottest Breakthrough MCs of 2010" Candidate: Jay Rock
Even if you never saw Jay Rock or didn't know about his street credentials, one listen to records like "All My Life in the Ghetto" with Lil Wayne and Will.I.Am or freestyles like "Anti Social" and you can tell that the Watts, California, native's rhymes are 'hood-validated.
The husky roar in his baritone, the vivid narratives and the pain in his flow all give Rock one of the most captivating young voices in hip-hop. His candidacy for "Hottest Breakthrough MCs of 2010" comes with a collective thumbs-up from the streets.
"Starting out in Watts, I can say I really had a love for music," Rock said of his early musical inspirations. "I always had a love for music. When I was 6, 7 years old, I was raised on all the old-school stuff. My momma used to play oldies in the house. That's all my momma used to play around the house was oldies. But when I stepped outside my project unit, that's when I listened to the Dres, Scarfaces, DJ Twists, Mausberg. I was brought up on that. I fell in love with rhyming when I turned 13. I was in junior high. I got into it, but I wasn't serious. It was just for fun."
Rock didn't care too much about cultivating his skills; he was too busy chasing paper.
"I was doing what I do, being a hardhead in the streets. I didn't even know one of my big homies was in the music game," Rock explained. "I heard he was looking for me. I thought it was to chastise me for some stuff I did being a hardhead. But the whole time, he wanted to get me in the studio. He heard one of my tapes, a song I was on. I used to be ducking and dodging. Shout-out to Top Dawg, he snatched me out the streets and said, 'I'mma make something happen. You don't need to be out in the streets doing that dumb stuff.' "
Rock started putting out mixtapes in 2006 and has been signed to the Warner Music Group for the past three years, waiting to release his debut, Follow Me Home.
"We still pushing," Rock said about being patient. "We ain't giving up on nothing. We been through worst situations than this on the street level. Look where we at right now? We on MTV. We gotta keep pushing."
Rock became a fixture on the hip-hop blogs back in 2008 when the video for "All My Life in the Ghetto" dropped, featuring none other than Lil Wayne. His momentum has carried into this year with his appearance as part of XXL magazine's Freshmen 10. The follow-up mixtape From Hood Tales to the Cover of XXL came in the spring.
"I been around negativity all my life," Rock said. "To do something positive, it's a beautiful thing. It's crazy how people are listening to my music. I ain't never expect. ... I'm from Watts, out the projects. I'm blessed. Real talk."
Jay and 19 other up-and-coming MCs are in the running to become MTV News' "Hottest Breakthrough MC of 2010" — and the winner will be decided by you!
Cast your vote for the "Hottest Breakthrough MC of 2010" right here. The top five will be revealed beginning July 19, and the winner will be announced on the "Sucker Free Summit" July 25!