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20 July, 2006@12:00 am

    A wise rapper once said, “watch who you let in your crew / cause when them niggas fall off / they gonna bring you down too”. Of course, if anybody ever paid attention to those lyrics, hip-hop would be a totally different animal than it is today. Instead, it sucks, because even the handful or so of actually talented artists, nevertheless continue to put their boys on. Eminem’s got D12, Jay-Z’s got Memphis Bleek, Nas has Bravehearts, and the list goes on and on and on. One might think that an artist that is so talented would be able to plainly see right in front of his face that his friends simply do not have what it takes to “get on”, but still, temporary meal-tickets are handed out in the name of nepotism. And hip-hop suffers because of it.

    Roc C is the latest rapper to be in the right place at the right time – that is, signed to Stones Throw and produced entirely by Oh No – and not-so-coincidentally also hails from Oxnard, CA (the same hometown as Madlib, Oh No, Declaime, etc). Roc is blessed with a sixteen track LP produced by Madlib’s younger brother, Oh No, with All Questions Answered. 

     Don’t get it twisted, Roc is hungry, he wants this shit bad. He’s been through some shit; he’s rough around the edges; you can hear it in his voice. But if only that same hunger was applied to what he is actually saying, which isn’t much of anything at all. Poor metaphors, a curse-heavy, rushed delivery, and an occasional channeling of Lloyd Banks’ flow make the majority of Roc’s verses come off as uninspiring or gimmicky (very uncharacteristic of a Stones Throw record). “Hear Me Now” adopts its hook from a Verizon commercial, delivering a blase trio of verses over an otherwise decent Oh No track. The same can be said for the apathetic “Fuck You”, which more or less sums up Roc’s attitude in three minutes. Regionally aimed tracks like “Ghetto” (NYC) and “Dirty Dirty” (down south) attempt to adapt Roc C to any market possible, both coming off messy and one-dimensional.

     It’s shame for Roc that he allowed a supreme lyricist like Chino XL anywhere near his album, as on “El Capitan (Remix)”, Chino murders him on his own shit. Even Oh No, who is a producer before he is an emcee, takes the spotlight on the marching “Don’t Stop”, a beat that might have benefited much more provided better emcees were attached to it. After nine tracks, Roc C attempts to get serious and show off his lyrical prowess on “Let’s Battle”, but sadly never delivers the amazing rhymes he promises before the first verse begins. The painful “R.O.C.” is just….oh, what’s the point? 

     Call it a fluke. It’s the only explanation for such a dynamic label that has released classic records from the likes of Madlib, J. Dilla, PBW, MF Doom, Rasco, and others, not to mention houses a batch of strong up and coming talent (Oh No, Aloe Blacc, Georgia Anne Muldrow). Roc himself asks at the beginning, “Who is Roc C, anyway? How the hell is he on Stones Throw, anyway?” Unfortunately, the answers to these questions aren’t worth seeking out.

  Mixtape D.L.
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