Nothing revelatory to say about this one because this wasn’t revelatory: anyone paying even the slightest bit of attention should know that Jay Rock is more consistent than either ScHoolboy Q or Ab-Soul; unlike the sometimes moronic Oxymoron and heartbreakingly awful These Days…, 90059 is better than its predecessor, though that’s mostly because it buckles down on filler (11 tracks versus that mixtape’s 18 songs), but consistency doesn’t mean good, necessarily. I have no use for “90059”‘s ODB impression or “Money Trees Deuce” which has nothing to do with the original (and also cops a great rhyme from Kendrick’s “m.A.A.d. city”) or the album’s conscious tracks (“Fly on the Wall,” “The Message”) because Jay Rock is and has always been the least interesting persona of the Black Hippy crew (yeah, even ScHoolboy Q’s satyriasis is vaguely more interesting); “The Ways” is filler. It doesn’t help that his production team – handpicked hometowners – supplies beats that are often serviceable at best and non-descript at worst. Exceptions: “Necessary” zipping synths, “Gumbo”‘s guitar line and “Telegram”‘s choral backdrop.
But I’m giving this a ‘B’ because “Easy Bake” and “Vice City” are two of my most-played songs this year. Big surprise that the best songs off a non-Kendrick Black Hippy-related album are the ones that feature Kendrick, right? And to be sure, “Easy Bake” spins its wheels until Kendrick arrives, where he and Jay Rock trade bars in the song’s climax (“KL: This is my shaking down you niggas’ pockets, I don’t do friends / JR: AND I DON’T DO TRENDS! / KL: FUCK IT THOUGH I’LL RIDE WITH YOU THEN!”). Afterwards, there’s a beat switch for a SZA showcase that’s better than anything from the SZA mixtape/EP last year (maybe she’s only good in small doses?). Elsewhere, “Vice City” is, as far as I can tell, a love it or hate it affair, and I get the criticisms: the flow used throughout does get old because everyone uses the same one. And Ab-Soul’s verse barely gets by (ie. the filler lines “Took a minute, no, wait a minute… / Let me… think about it…”, to the rather embarrassing wordplay, “Had a real thick bitch named Brooklyn / She fucked the whole squad / Now every time I land in Brooklyn / They fuck with the whole squad”; “I think I’m finally ready to talk about it / These niggas just talk about it”). But the flow is infectious, the words are often quotable (“I pray to a C-Note, my mama gave up hope”; “GED with some EBTs, and some DVDs / That shit was happening / She reel me in with some chicken wings / And some collard greens, that shit was brackin’”; “You be talking boss, saying big words / Like philosophies, man, you weird, homie”), and the way each artist manages to let their own personalities shine in their brief moment of spotlight before the next is commendable.