Roc ’ÄòC’Äô and IMAKEMADBEATS - "Stil Here" (The Transcontinental)
Before rappers reached rock-star proportions of celebrity and ego, they served as hypemen and mascots for DJs. Now, a typical marquee rapper works with as many “hot” producers as possible per album, throwing beats at the wall in hopes of a hit and usually clogging the thing with guests spots until it lacks a consistent POV, sound and texture. So it’s always refreshing when a rapper and a producer create an entire document together, particularly when the setup promises something new and unconventional.
As an MC, Oxnard’s Roc ‘C’, an associate of Madlib, Oh No and the rest of Stones Throw’s 805 contingent, isn’t much special. He’s got a tight flow, arrogant and claustrophobic in the “East Coast” tradition. As a writer and star, however, he’s got a way to go. His shit-talking is empty and predictable. His punchlines never really crackle. His lyrics are standard-issue when they aren’t laugh-out-loud funny in a forehead-slapping, Cam’ron fashion. (“Simply put / You get kaput… Through the door, like ‘daddy’s home’ / Kids in the back, man, their daddy’s home / What you want me to do, I can’t do that / It’s too easy to do, like when I move packs.”) As a singer, he’s fucking awful, stepping all over the battle-rap “Warriors” and other near-highlights. Even as a misogynist, he’s not that interesting. (“A bitch is a poisonous snake that once bit me.”) And when he dedicates a song to hip hop’s death-chic poster-boy du jour, J Dilla, it’s, weirdly, a sex jam (“All I’m Asking”). Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
So Roc ‘C’ hasn’t yet hit his stride as a rapper. But he brings enough flame on The Transcontinental to justify keeping an eye on him. And in landing IMAKEMADBEATS as a full-time collaborator, he was lucky, wise, or more promising than he sounds. IMMB is one of the most distinctive producers to emerge in a minute. His beats are crisp, aggressive and organic. He’s consistent and never wacky-eclectic, yet he’s fluent in brooding street opera (“Whisper Music”) as much as waterbed jams (“The One I Love”) as much as full-tilt club bangers (“Still Here”). If Roc ‘C’ can get this dude on his team, he’s got to be more than a charity case.