Johnny Reed McKinzie, Jr. (born March 31, 1986), better known by his stage name Jay Rock, is an American rapper from Watts, Los Angeles, California. Growing up in Watts, known for its low income, gang and drug infested streets, Rock ultimately chose to take rapping over street life after Anthony Tiffith, CEO of independent record label Top Dawg Entertainment, found Rock in 2005 and signed him to his label after hearing a verse of his. Rock, alongside Top Dawg, worked with Warner Bros. and later Asylum Records, but after both mergers fell through, the label linked up with Strange Music, after Tech N9ne, rapper and founder of the label met with them.
Rock is a member of hip hop supergroup Black Hippy, alongside his label-mates and fellow West Coast rappers Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul. In 2011, after signing his joint-venture deal with Strange Music, Rock released his often-delayed and long-awaited debut studio album Follow Me Home. The album was preceded by the singles "All My Life (In the Ghetto)" and "Hood Gone Love It".
1986-2007: Early life and career beginnings
Jay Rock was born and raised in Watts, Los Angeles, California, in the Nickerson Gardens projects. In his neighborhood he is a known member of the Bounty Hunter Bloods gang. Rock attended Locke High School. Two times in his younger life he was jailed due to the areas anti-gang injunction. After signing to Top Dawg Entertainment (TDE), he released several mixtapes throughout his neighborhood and the internet. With the help of TDE he signed to Asylum Records and later Warner Bros. Records in 2007.
2008–2011: Follow Me Home and signing to Strange Music
Rock released his commercial debut single, "All My Life (In the Ghetto)" in late 2008, featuring fellow American recording artists Lil Wayne and will.i.am. The single was promoted as one of "iTunes's Free Downloads" in early 2009. In 2010, Rock was featured on the cover of XXL's annual Top 10 Freshmen issue. He was also named by MTV one of 2010's breakthrough MCs. Jay Rock was featured on Omarion's song "Hoodie" and was supposed to be featured on Flo Rida's third studio album Only One Flo but was left off the final tracklisting.
Rock's mixtape Tales From the Hood 2 went to iTunes on March 28, 2010 and his mixtape From the Hood to the Cover of XXL was released to iTunes on July 24, 2010. He also toured with 50 Cent, and other rappers on The Invitation Tour. Around the same time he left Warner Bros. due to them delaying his album. Jay Rock then signed with indie record label Strange Music in the Fall of 2010, on a multi-album deal after leaving from Warner Bros. Jay Rock then went on tour with Tech N9ne, E-40, Glasses Malone, Kutt Calhoun and Kendrick Lamar on the "Independent Grind National Tour". His mixtape Black Friday, was released December 7, 2010 to iTunes.
On June 21, 2011 Rock released his second single, "Hood Gone Love It", featuring Kendrick Lamar. His debut album Follow Me Home was released on July 26, 2011 under independent record labels Strange Music and Top Dawg. The album debuted at #83 on the Billboard 200, selling 5,300 copies in its first week. "Hood Gone Love It" was featured in the character trailer for Franklin, a main protagonist in the video-game Grand Theft Auto V. The song is also featured in the in-game radio station Radio Los Santos.
2012-present: Second studio album
During 2012, Rock also toured with the rest of Black Hippy and Stalley, on BET's Music Matters Tour. Rock's appearance on Good kid, m.A.A.d city, was highly significant as he was the only other rapper from Black Hippy to be featured on the standard edition of the album. He was featured on the song "Money Trees", for which his verse was highly acclaimed. He also performed "Money Trees" with Lamar at the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards, along with appearing in the TDE Cypher. XXL named his verse the fourth best of the night. In November 2013, he told Power 105 that his second studio album would be released in 2014. Rock is nominated for Album of the Year as a featured artist for participating on fellow Black Hippy member, Kendrick Lamar's good kid, m.A.A.d city.