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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Reily Marte Keeps it Authentic For His Fans

“Always keep it real … people [will] feel what you’re saying in your music.”

Brooklyn-born Florida resident Reily Marte is currently making noise with his new single “Nobody Else,” which is presently steaming on all important platforms. The song is the second drop from his upcoming album Patience, a title that is a subtle plea to his fanbase. “The album stands for being patient with the songs I’m creating,” he tells AAHH. “Be patient; I got vibes for you all to listen to coming soon.”

Reily was introduced to the music industry at the young age of 13 by his father. “Dad was more focused on the Spanish scene,” he notes, “but there’s still little tips I get from him and learn from him.” Fast forward, he’s now a multi-faceted creative and a one-man team. “[I] record, mix and master all [my] songs,” he states proudly.

The upcoming LP promises to deliver a plethora of vibes to attract a multitude of different listeners to his music. “My sound can go from a dark feel to an uptempo dancehall style to a soulful RnB type of sound,” he says, citing Eli Sostre, Drake, and a handful of regional artists as influences.

“My goal in the industry is to show the younger generation that you can create different types of sounds and still get support from fans,” he states confidently. “If you’re authentic with your music people will respect it.”

“Always keep it real … people [will] feel what you’re saying in your music.”

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Famous Dex Talks New Album & Dual Identities In Exclusive Interview

“I didn’t [really] just discover them, it’s always been like that.”

Coated in Diamonds, with a Gucci bag draped at his hip, Chicago rapper Famous Dex took the stage in a black werewolf T-shirt at New York’s Gold Bar on March 27 to premiere his new album Dex Vs. Dexter, and to receive a gold certification plaque for his bouncy track “Pick It Up” with A$AP Rocky. The album, while still flux in braggadocio lyrics, demonstrates creative growth for the rapper. Released on April 6th, the date was personally chosen by Dex to coincide with the three year anniversary of his mother’s passing from breast cancer. “It’s influenced my hustle. Everything I do now has a greater purpose because of her,” Dex told Above Average Hip-Hop. “The decisions I make with my family and my career, I always consider what she would tell me.”

The project’s theme of separate entities, while not a foreign concept in Hip-Hop, paints the audacious artist as someone more than how he appears to fans. “I didn’t [really] just discover them, it’s always been like that,” the artist said of his two identities. “Dex is the romantic guy,” he said with a laugh, “Dex is single, well both Dex and Dexter are single, but Dex loves women, chilling, vibing, [and] not doing too much. Sometimes people see me on a video, and I’m really laid back, that’s Dex.” In contrast, ‘Dexter’ is the artist everyone is familiar with. “He’s a clown, wild, crazy with ad-libs and everything. Dexter is who most people know in my music.” The two characters are fully realized on the albums cover art, with “Dex” sprawled on a green leather couch with a girl on his lap, while “Dexter” zooms around the couch in an animated form.

 
In contrast to Dex’s previous work, the rapper’s official debut is heavy on pop influences. The hook on “Prove It,” is layered in a pop-rock guitar riff and steady 808 drums. “Take this ride with me, sip this Hennessy, I got bands on me…Ooh girl you so sweet,” Dex sings in the third verse. Another drastic musical departure for the mumble rapper comes in the form of “LIGHT,” a radio-ready single featuring pop-rock quartet Drax Project. “Aw man, Drax! I love those guys,” Dex said of working with the band. “It just happened, I don’t know exactly how it happened, but I’m not going to question God because it’s dope! I’ve never made a song like that before.” Dex sings on the track alongside the group, his gooey auto-tuned vocals harmonizing with Drax.

However, Dex still makes room on his debut to tackle familiar territory. “LIGHT” is followed by “Celine,” a barely-two-minute bouncy interlude that finds the rapper reassuring his fans not everything has changed. “My favorite track to get hype to is ‘Celine.’ That song is fire,” Dex said. “It’s so natural to me, and I love to perform it.” Other tracks like the lead single “Japan,” “Take Her” with Wiz Khalifa and the album’s intro “DMD” find Dex in his comfort zone as he tackles beats by Pi’erre Bourne and J Gramm, among others. “This whole album is a celebration,” Dex said. Even with a new album just released, Dex is already planning his next steps. “I’m already working on my next album, Rich Forever got something fire coming out soon, so be on the lookout for that.”

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“My Dear Melancholy” is Bone-Chillingly Beautiful

Judging from the dark subject matter that has typified Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye’s catalogue to date–which includes rampant drug abuse,…

Judging from the dark subject matter that has typified Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye’s catalogue to date–which includes rampant drug abuse, his struggles as a homeless young-adult, and suicidal thoughts–few could have guessed that it would be his short stint with a former Disney Channel star that would leave him at his lowest. The Starboy crooner leaves little to speculation on his latest commercial release, My Dear Melancholy, a succinct six-song EP inarguably based on the fallout after his recent fling with pop star Selena Gomez. 

While The Weeknd’s anguish seems genuine and makes you feel for the guy, it’s impossible to ignore the glaring irony in his recent complaints, one, given Gomez’ goody-two-shoes persona, and even more so given the overtly misogynistic lyrics that Tesfaye is so well known for. Here are a few in case you need a reminder (no pun intended):

From the track “Party Monster” off of Starboy: “Woke up by a girl I don’t even know her name.”

From the smash hit “The Hills” off of the 2015 release Beauty Behind the Madness: “I only call you when it’s half past five, the only time I’d ever call you mine.”

Later on the same track, “I just fucked two bitches ‘fore I saw you.” 

Lastly, on the track “Reminder,” also off of Starboy: “When I travel ’round the globe, make a couple mil’ a show, and I come back to my city, I fuck every girl I know.” 

With that being said, musically, My Dear Melancholy is bone-chillingly beautiful. The Weeknd returns to his dark and cavernous House of Balloons roots on the project while still maintaining his newfound pop sensibilities. Rattling bass, slow, driving percussion, and subtle, haunting synths and keys cproductions. The production on most of My Dear Melancholy leaves room for Tesfaye’s vocals to take the driver’s seat, unlike that of the brighter and grandiose Starboy. From a lyrical standpoint, the EP is peppered with moving, weighty bars:

Off of “Wasted Times:” “I don’t wanna wake up if you ain’t laying next to me.”

Off of “Call Out My Name,” the opener: “I almost cut a piece of myself for your life,” a reference to Gomez’ recent search for a kidney donor

Tesfaye saves the best for last, providing the most melodically beautiful and lyrically clever portion of the EP on the closing track “Privilege,” as he repeats in a despondent, Vocoder-enhanced tone: “I got two red pills, to take the blues away.”

It is hard to deny the allure of much of The Weeknd’s work, regardless of lyrical content, due to the singer’s angelic voice and cutting-edge production. On My Dear Melancholy, Tesfaye achieves success from both a melodic and lyrical standpoint, substituting (for the most part) tales of apathetic sexual encounters for raw, vulnerable descriptions of his recent struggle with heartbreak. The Weeknd has finally found the middle ground between his groundbreaking, alt-R&B House of Balloons project and the poppy, Funk-infused Starboy. Lastly, to those Weeknd Stans worried about the Toronto star returning to normalcy, the singer explains on “Privilege:” 

“And I’ma fuck the pain away, and I know I’ll be okay…But I’ma drink the pain away, I’ll be back to my old ways.” 

Not to worry people; the Abel we’ve come to know, and love isn’t going anywhere.

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Cardi B’s Debut Album “Invasion of Privacy” Is Out Now

It’s almost a week since Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion of Privacy dropped. Her fans, the Bardi Gang, are more than…

It’s almost a week since Cardi B’s debut album, Invasion of Privacy dropped. Her fans, the Bardi Gang, are more than pleased with the LP, which has aldo managed to make those who weren’t fans, into new ones..

“I like proving niggas wrong, I do what they say I can’t,” raps Cardi B on “I Like It”

I can’t think of an artist that has had as bomb a breakout year as Cardi B has. She gave us the summer 2017 hit, “Bodak Yellow,” and since then, she’s been on the Billboard charts back to back (to back). The last ten months have been especially great to her, let alone this week. After releasing Invasion of Privacy, Cardi revealed her pregnancy with rapper Offset on “Saturday Night Live”; also, she was the first person ever to co-host The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

Invasion of Privacy is an upfront look into Cardi’s everyday life. She’s confident, vulnerable and full of witty remarks. Laced into 13 tracks, the newly minted Quality Control management signee made anthems for the rest of the year. “Get Up 10” sets the bar for what’s to come on the project. Inspired by Meek Mill’s “Dreams and Nightmares” intro, Cardi’s version is also broken into two parts about her ascension to the riches from the rags.

As well, the album includes “Bartier Cardi” with 21 savage, which recently earned platinum certification, and is still doing numbers.

 

Cardi B money moves on this album show her versatility. She dabbles into the trap sound with “Drip” featuring the Migos, shows her confidence and positive vibes on “Best Life” featuring Chance the Rapper, and gets very personal with “Be Careful,” a track addressing an unfaithful partner/boyfriend. Cardi is not the one to mess with!

Social media pundit-turned reality TV star-turned rapper is a way of saying that this girl from the Bronx, is made of grind and determination. You don’t have to like her music, the way she talks, or her persona, but you have to respect her hustle. She came from the bottom and executed her way to the top.

Listen to Cardi B’s debut album below.

<iframe src=”https://tools.applemusic.com/embed/v1/album/1368105671?country=ca&at=11l4Qg&ct=invasionofprivacy” height=”500px” width=”100%” frameborder=”0″></iframe>

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"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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