Roc-A-Fella Appreciation


By Rehab

As I was interviewing with Aly Music on my show recently, I discovered there was one thing we shared in common about hip hop. We both shared a huge affinity for the entire Roc-a-Fella movement that jumped off in the early 2000s. If anyone knows me, they would tell you I’m a huge ROC fan. You could even call me a ROC stan, and I wouldn’t argue with you about that. Who would have thought the label that began as a subsidiary to Priority Records in the mid 90s would grow into one of the biggest forces anyone has ever seen in music?

To start talking about Roc-a-Fella, you must start with the individuals who built it from the ground up. Everyone knows of Jay-Z by now. If you were paying attention, you know of the loud and obnoxious Dame Dash. If you were really paying attention, the name Kareem Biggs Burke rings a bell. It was Jay’s skills on the mic, Dame’s business savvy, and the mystique of Kareem that made ROC what it was known for.

Then you got to talk about Beanie Sigel and Memphis Bleek, the generals of the ROC. It was these two who the public were introduced to once the label started to take off. Bleek was touted as the next guy to take over the game by Jay (which we all know didn’t pan out exactly as it was originally planned). Sigel brought that rugged and street credibility that made the movement be felt on that level. All this while Jay made sure to please the mainstream audience and wrote hit after hit to keep the checks rolling in.

Then one night on the famed Hot 97 radio show, it was when things went next level. Jay introduced a collective of Philadelphia emcees known as State Property, led by Beanie Sigel and and the group freestyled for an entire hour. Being from California, I didn’t know about this legendary night until a friend let me borrow a mixtape that featured the entire session months after it had happened. It was then I knew I had to not only find out each member’s name in State Property, but I had to get every thing that was related to Roc-A-Fella. From the Rocawear clothing line to the films they released like the great Paid In Full, I became a die hard head in high school. Till this day, I believe State Property is one of the most underrated groups ever. Every single member can spit.

Just when I didn’t think it would get any better, Cam’ron had signed to the label and brought his Dipset crew to the ROC. He himself was already buzzing, and when he signed, it only got crazier. His song, “Oh Boy”, dropped, and I found myself bumping that song at least every morning before class sophomore year in high school. Repeatedly. Cam’s Come Home With Me is a great album and I still find myself playing not only that, but his other projects and mixtapes to this day.

All this and I haven’t even touched on the architects for the sound of Roc-a-fella. You know of Kanye West already. It was him and Just Blaze that made the soul sound popular again with Jay-Z’s classic Blueprint. From this album, both producers’ careers skyrocketed. Kanye is now one of the most popular figures in all of music, not just hip hop. Just Blaze is one of the most sought after hip hop beat makers and is respected in the entire industry.

As you can see in the above picture with Chris Paul, Roc-a-Fella was more than music. It was a lifestyle. I just wanted to show my appreciation to the movement that influenced my life. They all were larger than life back then and still are to a certain extent today. Like all good things, the ROC came to an abrupt end and disbanded. Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Just Blaze are still around making music. The others didn’t fare so well. Some of the artists have now faded into obscurity. Dame Dash is currently struggling to stay afloat as a music executive in the industry. Kareem these days is serving time for being involved in a drug ring. For a while, the movement controlled hip hop. I was fortunate to have been around and experienced the entire thing and not just read about it. If this is you, I can only say to go back and listen to the albums that came out under the label during this time. Although you missed the feeling I had while the ROC was on top, you shouldn’t do yourself a disservice on missing out on great tunes.

-Catch my show, Marauder Sounds, every Wednesday night on kssu.com at 10pm.

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