West Coast hip-hop has long been defined by the Los Angeles aesthetic: lowriders, gangbanging, and a finely-creased Ben Davis khaki ensemble topped off with a fresh pair of Cortezes. Anointed as part of the New West movement that pledged to keep that image and old Dr. Dre sound alive, to mixed results, (Kendrick Lamar is doing it, but where are Nipsey Hussle and Bishop Lamont?) Jay Rock’s Follow Me Home is in the vein of a Game album, which is compounded by the fact that he sounds like, well, The Game. With all the thugging going on on Follow Me Home (there’s actually a song called “I’m Thuggin'”), you’ll be thinking, “Wait, you want me to follow you where?”
Jay Rock is riding a wave of goodwill due to the success of TDE and how West Coast albums have traditionally embraced the summertime. His rugged voice and menacing delivery fit his desire to thug, much in the way that Devin the Dude’s voice just fit his stoner image. Jay Rock’s subject matter is mostly limited to party anthems and gangbanging, and with an 18-track album, that’s a lot of popped glocks (see “I’m Thuggin'”, “Kill or Be Killed”, “Bout That”, and “No Joke” for starters). Jay Rock also sprinkles in little West Coast references for fans that, like him, grew up in the Death Row era, claiming in “Code Red”: “Been claiming a set since the year they found Snoop Dogg innocent.” Follow Me Home’s strengths are actually the fun songs where his TDE crew joins in the fun, from the anthem “Hood Gone Love It” and the butter-smooth “Say Wassup”.
Jay Rock’s TDE teammate Willie B handles most of the production and strives for the Dr. Dre piano sound that Scott Storch used to bring (pre-yacht sale). It’s a sound that rap fans have heard imitated ad naseum on every LA gangsta rapper’s album for almost the last 20 years. There isn’t a whole lot of replay value because most of the album is something you’ve heard before. There’s no doubting Jay Rock’s rapping ability, but his lack of versatility hurts the album overall. Interestingly, Follow Me Home’s brightest moments come when the sound deviates from the traditional West Coast formula, ” Say Wassup” in particular, which gives hope for a future TDE album.