Jay Rock
Black Friday



by TobiasFunke USER (4 Reviews)
May 7th, 2016 | 2 replies

Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Jay Rock’s last mixtape is better than either of his subsequent studio albums, and a great throwback to old school West Coast rap.

In 2010, the artist with the biggest buzz on the Los Angeles based Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE) record label was traditional gangster rapper Jay Rock. Kendrick Lamar was not yet Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul were relative unknowns, and Isaiah Rashad was still toiling away in Chattanooga. Rock, on the other hand, had released a commercial single with Lil Wayne and will.i.am all the way back in 2008, and it had been quite well received. His debut album, Follow Me Home, had been delayed due to label interference, and as a reward to his fans he dropped this mixtape in November of 2010.

Black Friday was rare for a mixtape, composed largely of original production rather than freestyling over other artists’ songs. In addition to in-house producers such as Sounwave, Willie B, and label head Top Dawg (Dangeroo Kipawaa), Rock was able to snag (relatively) big names such as L.E.S and Crada. Despite the abundance of collaborators, the sound on the album is relatively cohesive. And that sound is West Coast, West Coast, West Coast. The plodding piano keys on “No Joke” (which later appeared on Follow Me Home) are reminiscent of a mid-2000s’ Dr. Dre beat, and “Kush Freestyle” was taken from the 2010 Dre single of that name. The only two weaknesses in the production are “In These Streets”, which just has too much happening, and “Hustle Man”, which is blaring and off kilter. Everything else inspires some violent head nodding at the very minimum, with the triumphant horns on “Juice”, somber underlying chorus of “Money Makin’ Moves”, and soaring instrumentation of “Shadow of Death” being particular highlights.

Jay Rock didn’t break any new ground on this album. He is a gangster rapper through and through, which means lots of talk about repping his set, growing up poor, and dealing drugs. Some of the topical matter can get a bit repetitive. He drops a line about “roaches and rats” three different times, and while that’s the most egregious example, there are other instances of lazy songwriting. They aren’t noticeable or frequent enough to be detrimental to the overall listening experience, however, and Rock sounds so good most of the time it doesn’t matter. He simply drops bars on here, rapping:

“Listen, I can paint pictures so vivid you would think I got a art degree
Walk with me, through my town where them killers dwell
Wild, wild Watts
Where we sell rocks, shots go off
Babies get chalked like hop scotch”

Again, none of this is anything new, but his presence is absolutely commanding, and his flow for much of the tape is superb.

The record of which this is most reminiscent is an old school Death Row album: the lyrics, the tough beats and tougher flows, and all the friends dropping by. Ab-Soul and Kendrick Lamar appear on six of the 14 songs (not counting the Black Hippy track at the end), and veteran rappers Big Scoob, Spider Loc, and Trae tha Truth all drop good verses on their features. One of the appealing things about 90s era rap was that it seemed like guest spots were organic, coming about via visits to the studio to support their friends rather than studio mandated bids for radio airplay. Black Friday brings that sense of camaraderie into the 2010s.

Everything culminates on the final track, “Shadow of Death”, where Black Hippy (a super-group composed of Rock, Soul, Schoolboy Q, and Kendrick) has fun over a fantastic beat and creates a simply terrific overall song. Rock and Q each get a full verse, Kendrick and Soul split one, and Kendrick handles the hook. All of them sound confident and fully formed, a portent of their upcoming albums in 2011. Black Friday was released during a simpler time in TDE before the label blew up, and it remains one of the label’s better overall projects.

user ratings (32)

Comments:Add a Comment 
February 19th 2017


Album Rating: 3.0

This ain't bad but what's with all the 5s

Contributing Reviewer
February 19th 2017



ive reported it several times in the meds but none of the mods do anything

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