You Asked for It: Roca Dolla
By Niki D'Andrea
Every week, I'll be reviewing a Phoenix artist's CD here in this "You Asked for It" blog. If you're a local musician and would like to submit your CD for review, please send it to me at:
Niki D'Andrea ATTN: YAFI c/o Phoenix New Times 1201 E. Jefferson Street Phoenix, AZ 85032
I had already planned to review the new CD from local hip-hop icon Roca Dolla when I received a phone call from local MC Justus yesterday. Justus is a veteran of the Phoenix hip-hop scene, and he's recently started doing a guest blog for us, called "Ear to the Street." He asked if we were writing something on Roca's new CD, because he said he felt it was "Arizona hip-hop" to the max and a really great record that's representative of the best talent AZ has to offer.
Luckily, I already had a copy and plans to review. Without further ado, here's the lowdown on the latest release from Roca Dolla.
Roca Dolla Roca Is a Classic (5Fith Coast Records)
Roca Dolla is the godfather of Phoenix hip-hop. Formerly known as Iroc Beats, Roca’s been laying down lyrical flows and grinding it out in the local scene for the better part of two decades. His studio and record label, 5Fith Coast Records, has produced tracks for some of the Valley’s hottest hip-hop talent, from Tray Gutter and Ocean to Zig Zag (formerly of NB Ridaz) and Bookie (of Survivalist). But Roca’s no backup on the mic, either -- he can spit with the best of them, and this double disc is packed with his prowess, from the flashy ’70s funk groove of “Truck Turner” to the springy club banger “Exit the Building.” Everybody’s who’s anybody in the local hip-hop scene makes an appearance on the album: Willy Northpole, C-Note, Lifted (Tha Formula), AZ Mike Mill, Emerge McVay (Bionic Jive), Chilee Powdah, C-Thug, Freeze, Jiggolo, Cinque, and Bobcat are just a handful of the homies Roca brought in to bust out some verses on various tracks. The samples and beats throughout are bad ass, from the string-laden bump of “Take Notes” and the low-end flow of “Swell” to the soulful, harmonic seduction of “Show Me How You Get Down” and the piano/hand clap combo of “Get Outta Here.” At the beginning of the record, Roca gives shout-outs to his myriad influences, from Snoop Dogg and Dre to Prince and Michael Jackson. Such diversity is reflected in Roca’s tracks, too, as he recalls everything from ‘70s R&B to ‘80s gangsta rap. He never misses a chance to give props to Arizona, either, whether it’s a whole song (“No Sleep in AZ”) or setting the scene, as in “24 to Life.”