Editorial, interview, Interviews, Main

Women Crush Wednesday: Sa-Roc

If you’ve fallen victim to a YouTube black hole, where you find yourself watching video after video and all of…

If you’ve fallen victim to a YouTube black hole, where you find yourself watching video after video and all of a sudden an hour has passed, there’s a good chance you’ve been under the spell of hip-hop enchantress Sa-Roc. This Atlanta-based MC is easy to be captivated by. As a performer, she carries herself with confidence, beauty and grace, and her music is strong, her lyrical patterns, intricate and her vocal delivery a wonderful balance between raw and polished.

Sa-Roc, originally from Washington, D.C., is a spiritual storyteller, and her control on mic and strength with a pen is truly majestic and impactful, yet her commanding presence isn’t overwhelmed by her ego. While her lyricism can be spitfire at times, she is in full command as she changes up her flows. Sa-Roc fills both the student and teacher roles as a musician, in that her perspectives share wisdom gained from her experiences and her diverse musical influences, while also being a true listener, open to learning and soaking up new life lessons.

Some of her experimental music is reminiscent of the stylings of Jean Grae, such as on track “The Little Spaceship,” while other tracks, such as “Industry (End-Us-Try)”, “Fire, Wind Earth” and “True Mastery” are clear nods to old school hip hop, the golden era.

Sa-Roc’s conscious, reflective and metaphysical lyrics are both complex and approachable. Her music is relatable and inquisitive – not only is Sa-Roc able to seemingly effortlessly engage an audience, she’s also able to get listeners thinking while getting lost in the music and vibing out.

Sa-Roc’s challenges are met with motivation to work through them, and her music mirrors the same keep-it-real mantra that Sa-Roc’s personality radiates. And the very best part – you can tell Sa-Roc enjoys what she does with passion.

As recently announced, Sa-Roc’s new album, “Gift of the Magi,” exclusively produced by Atlanta-based producer Sol Messiah, is set to drop on October 2nd.

Watch these spaces and check out our Q+A below!

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/SaRocVEVO
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sa-Roc/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/sarocthemc
Instagram: https://instagram.com/sarocthemc


Focusing on celebrating the female creators and voices has been a big inspiration for me and my enthusiasm for doing so is what led me to discover your music. I would love to hear more about if you have found it difficult to have your voice heard?

It definitely can be challenging. There is a preconceived notion right off the bat before hearing a woman who raps that she is going to be corny or she’s not going to be as skilled or confident as her male counterparts. It’s almost as if we aren’t allowed into the conversation. We don’t fit into the narrative that men in the industry have created for us. There is a hyper-sexualized, Barbie kind of image and I’m not talking about anyone in particular, but if you don’t fit that image and don’t tell that story, it is definitely more difficult to get your voice heard in my experience in blogs, in reading male commenters on the blog, and so on. It’s interesting how dismissive men can be for women rappers. I’ve seen female counterparts in the game who have let that discourage them.

For me, the challenge is to keep focused, to keep working, to keep true to myself as a skilled MC.

How did you get started and how do you remain driven?

I started in 2008. I never had a background in MC’ing or anything like that, but I’ve always been a writer and I’ve always been involved in the creative arts through theatre. It wasn’t until I met Atlanta-producer Sol Messiah that I had exposure to a lot of the artists that he worked with, and so on, and just being in the environment that he worked in made me want to try my hand at it. So I tried and we recorded something, just playing around in the studio, I didn’t know what to expect but the feedback from Sol Messiah was great. (Laughs) So from there, that was a boost to my confidence and I decided I would try it a couple more times and I caught the bug from that point on deciding that it is what I wanted to do.

I haven’t been in the game for that long, especially considering people doing it for 20 plus years and on, so it still feels fresh to me, I still feel like I’m growing, I still feel like I’m learning. I think, as a listener, it gets a little stale for me sometimes and hard to be inspired, but when you get great albums like Kendrick Lamar’s new album that just dropped and J. Cole’s album, that helps to inspire me. And it’s a little friendly competition too.

Tell me more about you and Sol Messiah and your creative process working together.

Sol Messiah is the only producer that I work with. I don’t know if we’d ever be considered a duo, it’s more so a Premier/Guru or Talib Kwali/Hi-Tek relationship, where they crafted a sound and made an album together. Sol Messiah and I have several albums together. It really helps creatively because you start to know each other really well and it becomes a symbiotic relationship where he knows my strengths and weaknesses, as well as he knows what beats and samples and things I strive on and he knows what excites me so we can create music tailored to my style and sound. I also challenge him to grow musically as I grow and stretch and change my cadences and flow.

Our process usually starts with him creating something for me, or creating a skeleton of something and then I take it and write what I need to write. After we will add layers to it, like background vocals or so on, then get into mixing and we create that way. He comes from Atlanta, and that whole 90s scene was very musician-heavy, incorporating a lot of bass and electric guitars, and a lot of those elements you’ll find in my music. A lot of those same family artists and musicians from Atlanta have been featured or provided the background for a lot of the music that I have created, so I am really blessed to have such a lush landscape with my music.

What does your favorite environment to work on a new track or write new lyrics look like?

I actually have an in-home studio so I prefer to work at home. That is comfortable for me. It’s funny, a lot of times we’ll be recording and I’ll have pajamas on. We don’t get to do that too often, but I love working at home. It’s easy and at 2 o’clock in the morning, if I finish a track I can jump in the booth and record it right away. For writing, I need to be off in the corner, in the quiet and I try to have a laid back vibe in the studio, with some incense burning to help create the ambiance I like. With the album we are working on now, we are starting to venture out and go into bigger studios.

What are you currently working on?

We haven’t come up with anything concrete release date-wise, but I am working in the studio. I am writing for a new project, to be released in the early part of winter. We are experimenting with a softer side than I have traditionally been used to. We have a couple of very special guests lined up that I don’t want to share just yet, but I can say I feel like this album will be my “Good Kid Maad City” kind of album. The one that really makes a lasting impression on the hip hop community.

What is some of your favorite advice?

One of my friends told me that as artists, it is our responsibility to share our music with the world. We are holding onto a light that could help someone living in a darkness; it could be that thing that helps them turn their life around or help enlighten them.

It is our responsibility to share our gift and not to be judgmental of that gift. As artists we can be extremely critical of our work. We are perceptible to criticism and not want to produce because of that. But if you look at what you are doing as a gift to yourself and to the world, and you’re being authentic in that, that should be your motivation for continuing to create and to craft your sound. That’s the best advice that keeps me motivated and inspired.

As a creator, what is your mission in creating, especially in today’s music industry?

I think that now people are wanting authenticity more than ever. As an artist I strive to be as true to myself and as true to my perspective as possible. I think that is really important to keep in mind that when you strip away all the layers, at the essence is what impact the music really has, and that impact should be true to why it resonated with you. That is my mission and that is my intention when I am creating and I hope that it can inspire other artists to do the same.

Much love and gratitude to Sa-Roc for sharing her music and her time with AAHipHop!

My name is KC Orcutt, and I’ve now been writing for an Internet-specific audience for more than half my life. Growing up in Upstate NY, I recently relocated to Los Angeles, where I aim to expand my writing career, meet as many interesting people as possible and never forget that the beach is a 20 minute drive away. My work has appeared on a handful of publications, including Beatport News, 12ozProphet, Brooklyn Street Art, Music Times and Keep Albany Boring. I am an enthusiast of happy hour, getting out of the house, supporting my friends’ creative endeavors and listening to the same five songs a dozen times in a row - if they bang.
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Florida Wants You To Know That “Rapping” Is Back In Style

There’s something about Florida that’s taking hip-hop back to its roots. In recent years, America’s favorite genre has continuously become…

There’s something about Florida that’s taking hip-hop back to its roots. In recent years, America’s favorite genre has continuously become more about beats and aesthetics than lyricism and rhyming. Not to write off any ‘new wave’ artists doing it big, but let’s just say when a tape drops with beats by Metro Boomin, I’m there for Metro.

Florida rap is different because it has garnered an underground scene that thrives by producing lyrical artists. This underground scene has recently been compared to that of Brooklyn’s in the 90s, where real, gritty, bar-for-bar rap is making a huge comeback. But to fully understand the difference between underground rap in Florida and mainstream rap from places like Atlanta, New York City, and Los Angeles, you have to know about some of the scene’s best —and most overlooked — artists.

Denzel Curry

You can’t discuss Florida rap without bringing up XXL Freshman Denzel Curry. Denzel began to establish himself in the new wave of underground hip-hop after Spaceghostpurrp created the group “Raider Klan.” Raider Klan never got the full attention it deserved, but it did put some promising MCs on the map before it fell apart, and Curry wasted no time growing a successful career of his own after the fallout.

 

His rapping style is experimental, to say the least; what stands out is that he is rapping. Imagery and wordplay alone could earn him recognition, but this isn’t what makes him stand out. He possesses the unique ability to turn rhymes on their heads in the blink of an eye. By quickly switching his densely narrated flows, Denzel throws curveballs at his listeners and accelerates his stories like no other modern MC. Listening to Denzel Curry is like enjoying a novel; you always leave with more than you came with.

Nell

Nell is another MC who emerged from Raider Klan’s underground presence. With a unique style based on straight up bar-for-bar rapping, Nell’s old school sound is not unintentional. Every track off of the mixtape “90’s Mentality” is just that — a throwback to the golden age of hip-hop.

 

Nell’s rap style is vintage yet progressive, tossing meaningful lyrics over rough, chopped and screwed instrumentals. Nell is essential to Florida’s underground scene because he’s making music that young and old Hip-hop heads can vibe with, together. The nostalgia associated with 90s rap has given a voice to MCs like Nell, who are focused on rapping ability alone, as opposed to fashion and money so distinctive to many mainstream artists.

Ski Mask the Slump God

Ski Mask the Slump God is making waves with his insane combination of new and old school rapping. He is one of the most notable young MCs — commercially — who tends to focus on rapping fast. Sure, a lot of new age rappers can go fast, but most separate their bars with an (aye) or (yea) whereas Ski Mask just can’t stop. The young rapper’s catalog is as diverse as it is consistent. Every song consists of wildly different sounds and subjects, but Ski Mask is always so addicting to listen to.

 

He also incorporates aspects of metal and hardcore rock in his music. If you listen carefully a lot of his songs sample bands like Drowning Pool and Slipknot, but even when he isn’t sampling it you can hear a standard rock kit somewhere in his beats. The rap/rock combo has been a historical part of Hip-hop; traveling down the stream from groups like RUN-DMC and M.O.P to bless modern Florida through rappers like Ski Mask the Slump God.

So maybe its the southern heat making everyone a little crazy, but something is making people want to rap in the Sunshine State. Trap music is helping expand Florida’s audience by drawing lots of attention to Miami with rappers like Lil Pump and Smokepurrp, which may help Florida’s underground scene grow in popularity. Denzel Curry, Nell, and Ski Mask the Slump God are just a few who are helping redefine what it means to be in the ‘new age’ of Hip-Hop.

All three of these artists have music available on major streaming services, but Soundcloud is the go-to place to hear their extensive catalogs. And if you are interested in hearing more of the Florida underground here are some artists you may want to check out: Pouya, Rell, Wifisfuneral, Robb Bank$, Yung Simmie, Lofty305, and Fat Nick.

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Teka$hi 6ix9ine is Proving To Be 2018’s most unusual rapper

Controversial rapper Teka$hi 6ix9ine, real name Daniel Hernandez, is one of 2018’s most idiosyncratic underdogs. The Brooklyn native began his…

Controversial rapper Teka$hi 6ix9ine, real name Daniel Hernandez, is one of 2018’s most idiosyncratic underdogs. The Brooklyn native began his career as a Soundcloud artist and gained national attention after his rainbow-colored hair, bright gummy grills, and stylized “69” tattoos across his body painted him as the “final boss” of Soundcloud Rappers in an internet meme.

Teka$hi 6ix9ine is Proving To Be 2018’s most unusual rapper

While his striking image spread online,6ix9ine’s song “Gummo” began amassing millions of views on YouTube after its October release, eventually reaching #12 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song sports aggressive lyrics over a trappy Pierre Bourne instrumental, with the “Scum Gang” rapper screaming: “She wanna fuck but keep her clothes on, I only want the jaw, man that’s all I really use her for, as I kick her out the door.”

In December, Teka$hi plead guilty for the use of a child in a sexual performance. According to court documents and XXL, the charges stem from an incident that occurred at a friends apartment in Harlem on February 21, 2015. Detective Maureen Sheehan stated the victim, who was 13 years old at the time, was seen in a series of videos “completely nude sitting on the lap of the defendant [Hernandez]…[with] his arms around the child.”

In an interview with DJ Akademiks, Teka$hi at first denied the allegations.

“When she came in she asked me how old I was, and I told her I was 18, and I assumed she was older. The way she was asking made me think she was older.”

Teka$hi also denounced his actions based on his age, saying he was “a kid,” and “17 years young,” when according to court documents his birthday is in 1996 — making him 18 during the time of the assault. “I’m not touching the girl,” the rapper went on to say to Akademiks, “I’m not having sexual intercourse with the girl, I’m not doing nothing.”

6ix9ine plead guilty to the charges in November and will be sentenced on January 30, 2018. The artist has been ordered not to post sexually explicit or violent images featuring women/children to social media. He also must obtain his GED, not commit another crime for two years and “write a letter to his victim and her family detailing why his participation in the videos was harmful to her and her family.”

Teka$hi will receive three years probation if he meets these qualifications, and won’t have to register as a sex offender. The rapper faces one to three years in prison if any of these conditions aren’t met.

 

With Teka$hi’s Hyper-Violent Shock Rap coming into mainstream playing alongside other controversial acts like XXXTENTACION, it will be a defining next few months for the Hip-Hop industry. Will labels support those with disturbing pasts like Teka$hi 6ix9ine, and if so, will listeners be able to stomach any tracks the artists release from here on out?

Fellow Soundcloud artists Trippie Redd and Ski Mask The Slump God have already distanced themselves from X and Teka$hi. Redd said via Instagram “I’m sorry brozay, 1400 don’t support pedophiles,” and Ski Mask said X is “crazy as hell.”

In the meantime, Teka$hi shows no signs of slowing down. The rapper recently released his “Keke” music video featuring Fetty Wap and A Boogie With A Hoodie, and is gearing up to release his debut Kooda tape very soon.

Well, that backfired 😂😂😂😂😂

A post shared by Above Average Hip Hop (@aboveaveragehh) on

In addition to the criminal charges, 6ix9ine has also gotten a bashing via Twitter this month after a video posted by Ugly God revealed his chains were fake. Producer Pierre Bourne also came out and dismissed his track “Gummo,” saying the instrumental was meant for Trippie Redd, and not for 6ix9ine. With the hate flowing in, Teka$hi’s seems to hold his head high.

“I run New York, I’m in fucking charge right now, whatever I say goes,” he told DJ Akademiks recently. Fans, while skeptical, will soon see if his words hold merit.

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A Beginner’s Guide To Injury Reserve

Jazz rap, spaz rap, and everything in between. That’s what California (via Arizona) hip-hop trio Injury Reserve has brought to…

Jazz rap, spaz rap, and everything in between. That’s what California (via Arizona) hip-hop trio Injury Reserve has brought to the table with their two full-length LPs — and single EP. Consisting of two rappers, Nate “Ritchie With a T” Ritchie and Stepa J. Groggs, and one instrumental mastermind, Parker Corey, the group started making waves in 2015 with the release of their debut album, Live From the Dentist Office.

Riding the success of the jazzy single “Yo” and the cerebral deep cut “ttktv,” the trio came back with a vengeance at the end of 2016, dropping one of my favorite hip-hop albums of that year, Floss. Refusing to rest on their laurels, yet evidently taking the time to piece together a formidable third studio album, the trio dropped a seven-track EP, Drive It Like It’s Stolen, in the fall of 2017. With a tonal palette ranging from sexy to mean to somber, the extended play was more than enough to satisfy their growing fan base for the time being.

They have shown exactly zero signs of slowing down; they will embark on their first headline tour before the winter is over. So, if you would like to get on the Injury Reserve bandwagon before they officially blow up, here are the nine tracks you need to help you do so.

Live From the Dentist Office

“Yo”

 

With a thumping bassline, upbeat guitar, and splashy horns, this track remains one of the jazziest and most infectious instrumentals in the Injury Reserve catalogue. It is, however, somewhat deceiving; although you may want to dance, Ritchie and Stepa spit frustrated verses about their 9-5 jobs and anonymity in the genre. Further, Stepa addresses his alcoholism, a motif that appears throughout the trio’s music. Nevertheless, the two rappers come through with tones and flows that sound hungry as hell, and their determination is all too clear.

Yeah it’s good to be on/On, yeah, I’m on the clock/Cause these raps haven’t done shit but buy me a couple socks. – Ritchie

“Whatever Dude”

 

With a title that refers not only to the hook but to the relaxed vibe as well, this track is aptly named. Rapped over fluttering hi-hats, sharp snares, and breezy guitars, the lyrics address some of the same themes tackled in the previous song: struggle, the balance of work and art, the determination to blow up in the rap game. The opening verse remains one of my favorites in Ritchie’s repertoire.

I been doing some stupid shit like going to work/When I could be doing some lucrative shit like writing a verse. – Ritchie

“Ttktv”

 

Parker scales it back a bit on this track and lulls the listener with delicate, somber keys, a spellbinding drum loop, and low, growling backing vocals set behind Ritchie’s blissful singing. Then, at the three minute mark, you’re shaken by a sudden transition to an intense 25-second verse that addresses a painful relationship. It’s towards the end of the song that things getting pretty cerebral; I love the way Parker muffles and warps both the keys and Ritchie’s vocals.

Air tight bag, my heart is all in it/And I hardly fall apart but this time I’m diminished. – Ritchie

Floss

“Oh Shit!!!”

 

The biggest banger on an album jam-packed with bangers. The brilliant focal point, I think, is the contrast between the beautiful keys and the schizophrenic trap beat. Ritchie digs deep into his vocal register and throws it back to the mid-2000s with a hook that makes me want to run through eleven brick walls. The group kicks of their sophomore effort with a braggadocious flex, and the message is clear: they’re on their way up.

Remember mama told me that I need to get my act together/Ten years passed the only difference is I’m rapping better. – Stepa

“S on Ya Chest”

 

An enthralling, dream-like sonic experience, this has to be my favorite song in the IR discography. The silky smooth horns make the track an essential example of modern jazz rap and the hook is like nothing else I have ever heard; it features Ritchie on two separate tracks, rapping two different hooks that mesh together seamlessly.

Ya what you know about a young nigga like this/What you know about a young neighbor like this/I did the second one for the white kids/Cause I know you wanna say it, but that ain’t right, kid. – Ritchie

“Look Mama I Did It”

An emotional, triumphant conclusion to a phenomenal sophomore project. Here, we see Parker get on some Kanye shit; he masterfully incorporates a church choir sample into the instrumental, and I love the way he alternates the volume of the sample to match the jarring effect of the jittery hi-hats. Ritchie makes himself entirely vulnerable and spits one of the most genuine, heart-wrenching verses I have heard in my years of hip-hop fandom. Stepa picks the vibe back up with a proud meditation on the trio’s long road to success and Parker packs a sentimental wallop in the final minute of the track. He plays it out with an epic, orgasmic crescendo of the church sample, driving beat, and a science fiction synth passage.

Had the same outfit on that I graduated in/Cause I heard you were fighting the doctors and they still made you miss it. – Ritchie

Drive It Like It’s Stolen

“See You Sweat”

 

A sexy, claustrophobic banger complete with hip-swinging drums, police sirens, and a tasteful sound effect to replicate a drop of sweat. Ritchie keeps it laidback on the chorus and shows off the suave, sensual side of his hook-making chops. Although I didn’t love it at first, the whispered bridge fits the vibe of the track perfectly and sounds especially good over the hand-clapped beat.

Still feeling myself, just socializing/But you better not ask me to start freestyling. – Stepa

“Boom (x3)”

 

This instrumental is horrifying, sinister, and brilliant. If a serial killer were an instrumental, he or she would be this track. It features the same elements that make “Oh Shit!!!” great, but on steroids: lingering keys, killer bass, and cyclical drums underneath an unsettling trap beat. Ritchie sounds like he swallowed a frog full of rusted screws before he recorded this hook as he addresses the haters who chirp artists with ghostwriters. His tone and flow are relaxed, but his annoyance is clear.

And here we go back again with all the chit-chat/That he said she said, nigga just spit raps. – RitchiR

“North Pole”

 

This is the most stripped-back and vulnerable I have heard the group thus far. Rapping over a minimalist drum beat, repetitive guitar chords, and haunting vocal sample, Stepa and Ritchie address their darkest demons and spill their hearts out as plainly as any music fan can ask. Framing Ritchie’s verse as a phone call is nothing short of genius.

I love that Jay line talkin bout CBS/I been doing the same since so I can see BS. – Stepa

Make no mistake: although these dudes are successful, they are on the verge of truly exploding in the near future. If I were you, I would starting bumping their stuff sooner rather than later.

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You Should Be Excited About Rich the Kid’s Debut Album

Whatever title Rich settles on, you can rest assured that this album is going to be good

Atlanta via New York City rapper and Rich Forever Music founder Rich the Kid is set to drop his solo debut full-length in 2018.

After years of mixtapes and collaborations with artists such as Migos, Young Thug, and 21 Savage, Rich invested in himself and founded his label, Rich Forever Music, in the early spring of 2016. The first artists to hop on board were Chicago rapper Famous Dex and producer The Lab Cook, with whom Rich collaborated on the label’s first two tapes, Rich Forever Music and Rich Forever 2. In the fall of 2016, fellow New York City spitter Jay Critch signed to Rich Forever and, less than a year later, appeared with Rich and Dex on Rich Forever 3 – one of the best mixtapes of 2017, in my opinion.

https://twitter.com/richthekid/status/949364231475834880

Concerning his solo work, Rich signed to Interscope Records last summer and got to work on his full-length debut. The hype only grew in September when Rich dropped one hell of a single, “New Freezer,” with Kendrick Lamar. The landmark track rides an icy trap beat and showcases Rich’s talent as a hook-writer. Oh, and Kendrick snaps. Hard.

Only a few days into the new year, Rich announced via Twitter that Rich Forever 4 is on the way, featuring the same trio as its predecessor. On January 7, he posted an Instagram video of himself rapping along to an unreleased track with the caption “Finished my album last night now what should I call it?”

Whatever title Rich settles on, you can rest assured that this album is going to be good.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BdqhQ33hcgR/

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Sean Price – Songs in the Key of Price

"Backhandler, manhandle, Imam Sean; peace to Mandela and Farrakhan... The best con in flesh, Sean's here, metal fragments on face,...

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