Artist: Roc ‘C’Title: All Questions AnsweredRating: 3 StarsReviewed by: Max Herman
Despite pushing 30, Ox City’s Roc ‘C’ is a rookie in this game, and he knows it. On the intro of his debut album, he shamelessly reiterates the many inquiries skeptics have been throwing his way like, “Who is Roc C?” and “How the hell is he on Stones Throw anyway?” These are all fair questions as Roc’s first official appearance on wax in 2004 (on Oh No’s The Disrupt) slipped under most people’s noses. But by the time you finish listening to his official debut, All Questions Answered (A.Q.A.) (Stones Throw), you should be able to figure out why this tough-talking MC got co-singed by Oh No and the eclectic Stones Throw Records-as Guru said over ten years ago, “It’s mostly the voice.”
While Roc doesn’t prove to be the most versatile lyricist on A.Q.A., his gravely timbre and commanding flow are what make his arrival worth checking for. Yeah, the hazy West Coast funk of Roc’s fellow Oxnard, CA homies Oh No, Kan Kick and DJ Romes provides an equal draw, but for the most part, Roc demonstrates that he can hold his own. It’s not what he says that pulls you init’s the way he says it. On “Dirty Dirty”, Roc’s West Coast pride-fueled rhymes aren’t anything spectacular yet his impeccable stutter-step, chop-hop flow proves to be a show all on its own. And on “Don’t Stop” (featuring Oh No and Pok Dog), Roc’s heated braggadocio is delivered so fluently that you only wish his verse lasted longer. But his voice and delivery aren’t strong enough to save passable tracks like the misogynistic “Let’s Get This Paper”, which sees Roc unconvincingly try to justify why he calls women b’s and hoes and treats them the way he does.
Listening to the telling final track, “My Life”, featuring an undeniably fresh Timbaland-esque beat and a rastafied Aloe Blacc on the vocals, it becomes frustrating to think that Roc is capable of crafting highly reflective rhymes with a message. Lines like, “Ever since a player lost his son/I don’t focus on the past/My mind stay on the run,” say so much while leaving us wanting to know more. But maybe Roc really isn’t trying to look backwards. Still, songs like “My Life” are evidence that Ox City’s latest export can use his powerful voice to provide more than just rough ’em up rhymes. A.Q.A. is a solid debut for Roc ‘C’, but the real question is, where will he takes things next?