Photo Courtesy of Edwige Hamben
I believe J.Rocc’s time has come. The ultimate party rocker, record digger, and beat junkie (literally) has just released his first effort on Stones Throw Records, Some Cold Rock Stuf. J Rocc has been everywhere since the 80’s. From his start with group Bay area PSK to his rise (and domination) with turntablist group The Beat Junkies along side Babu, Melo-D, Short Kut, and Rhettmatic, to being part of the Stones Throw family as a DJ, remixer, group member (third member of Jaylib), and mix tape king, please add solo artist to his resume.
You have had DJ’s, specifically turntablists who have made solo records. The Z-Trip record Shifting Gears and Cut Chemist’s The Audience’s Listening were two standouts in that area. I’m not talking remixes or singles, because Chemist straight killed it on Ozomatli’s “Cut Chemist Suite” and reworked DJ Shadow’s “The Number Song”, while Z Trip took on the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” and Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” among others. Both DJ’s featured rappers on their solo records. While Z Trip traveled from the old to the new (Whipper Whip, Chuck D to Busdriver), Cut Chemist kept it current with underground staples Thes One, Mr. Lif, and Edan. J.Rocc breaks it down Hip Hop instrumental style (a la Endtroducing), with lots of samples and very little featured rappers (Percee P’s minimal vocals and the cut and paste Steinski style on “Take Me Away”). A standout sample on “Stop Trying” states: “You are about to embark on the most wonderful experience of your life”, and you know what, they’re right. From down tempo stoner anthems (“Thru the Tulips” and “Chasing the Sun”) to party rockers (the aptly named “Party” complete with some Bollywood samples and vocals a la Beat Conducta in India) and “Play This” (hard, upbeat drums, flanged out guitar samples), and just what the title of the record says, some Cold Rock Stuff. “Stay Fresh” closely reminds me of a long lost track on Entroducing, although it’s J.Rocc through and through. This whole record is a journey through many sounds. Reaching to Hip Hop and break beat junkies with a Les Baxter sample here, working in a Middle Eastern horn stab there, some Jazz saxophone over here, plus the plethora of music culture samples (“You are now rocking with the best” is always a Jamaican fave of mine) throughout, this is not your average DJ record. This is a skillfully crafted project spanning many genres, all instrumental, and all sampled. You see, J.Rocc doesn’t have to make a typical DJ record. He makes DJ mixes that kill it already. That’s a fact. Cold Rock Stuf is a side of the Beat Junkie, while showcasing his DJ skills, highlights his superior digging/sampling/production skills. Now here’s the question, is Cold Rock Stuf the new Endtroducing?
In 1996, DJ Shadow released Endtroducing, with a track on it that declared “Why Hip Hop Sucks in 1996”. We all are familiar with this record. It’s the record that changed a lot of things, introduced us to the genius that is Josh Davis, and proved that you didn’t need radio play or a backing live band to make one of the best instrumental Hip Hop records of all time . All you needed was an MPC60, a helluva lot of good records, and well, be DJ Shadow. In 2011, let’s be real. The state of Hip Hop is that of 1996. With the exception of records like Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2 (if you can classify it as Hip Hop), most Hip Hop sucks in 2011. Cold Rock Stuf picks up where Shadow left off 15 years ago. This record is just what we need today. Carefully crafted with quality ingredients, like a gourmet meal, perfectly executed drum breaks and samples, like Shadow gave us. J.Rocc and DJ Shadow may be two different people, but they have the same type of idea: release a quality record that will stand the test of time. I believe that Some Cold Rock Stuf is just that. So put your headphones on, take a walk outside and just go, J.Rocc will take you where ever you want. Even 15 years into the future.
Stay Fresh filmed by Mayer Hawthorne on his iphone in Japan 2011
10 years ago J.Rocc rocking Amoeba Records