Five & Done: Rocko

ATL's (the SWATs, specifically) latest rap upstart Rocko is out to prove management isn't always clueless. While the 29 year old earned his stripes representing artists and developing their careers for his own Rocky Road label, a year or so ago he figured he had the goods to make his own way as a rapper. Rocko is candid about his initial picking up of the mic strictly for the moolah, but insists money isn’t his only motivation. With his album, Self-Made, dropping in March, Rocko answers five questions you should know about.On what label he is actually signed to.It's my first deal as an artist. I'm not signed to So So Def. I'm signed to Rocky Road. I'm signed to myself. My deal goes through Jermaine Dupri, which is Island Urban. So as far as So So Def as an entity—no. It's strictly Rocky Road slash Island. I don't know what they have going on with Island as far as a label these days. I'm just hearing things, but I'm signed to myself, which is Rocky Road. As far as So So Def as a record company, Rocko is not affiliated with So So Def. As far as Jermaine Dupri, Rocko is affiliated with Jermaine Dupri because Jermaine Dupri is the President of Island Urban. A lot of people getting it misconstrued.It was the best deal for me. When I walked in the building I got a good vibe from the building. I'm a strong believer in vibes, that’s how I always rolled. If I get a good vibe from you then we're cool, but if I don't get a good vibe from you then we're not cool. I went in a lot of buildings, met with several labels, but when I walked in the building it felt like home.On putting management on the backburner to become an artist in his own right.At first I was more cash motivated; just tryin’ to keep the dollars coming in. I knew I had what it takes because all that rap is [is having] swagger and just making words rhyme and tell stories and things of that nature. So, I already knew I had it what it took. I had to make up my mind if that was something I wanted to do. So, initially it was all cash motivated, but then once I really got into it, I started liking it. I started kind of digging it.After I started really taking it seriously, I started going to the studio everyday, I say [for] a couple of months. I really started having fun doing it. I started to love it, I started to really really love to do it, you know what I'm sayin?You know I'm a young man, the majority of my artists were either my age or older than me, so I was always hands on with everything that took place. When it comes to the pre-production of the music in the studio to working the boards. I'm familiar with how everything works. I'm a consumer first, so I already know what I would like to hear. So when I was in the studio with my artists and they're making music and everything, it's like a collective effort because all of us are trying to do the same thing, we're trying to get to the same place. So if it's a beat and it's something I hear, and I think would sound good on a beat I'd let it be known. Once I realized that I had flavor like that I was like, Okay, I can do this.What working on the business side of the music industry enlightened him to.As an artist I'm still very much hands on with a lot of my business. [But] I know that as an artist you have to have someone else to do certain things for you because in this business people expect ou to be an artist, you know what I'm sayin? So you have to have those people that step up to the plate and talk business for you and handle things for you—that way you can stay in artist mode. But at the same time I feel like everything that I learned behind the scenes applies towards my career. So with my management team we're hands on, we're in cahoots together. I let them know how I feel certain things should be done and they do it. They act out their job to manage me. On “Umma Do Me”s success.I released it as a street single, like a set up single . I knew it was a nice record, but I didn't realize the radio would take to it the way that they did. That's how I was feeling. You know like, everyone else do you and I'mma do me. It's like people hate on you, tell you you can't do this, you shouldn't do this and it's like, you just do your thing

On avoiding one-hit wonder status.I make hit records. There's no way around that. It's no way for me to be denied because I make hit records. And I have the power to get my records heard, so I don't have to sit around and wait for someone else to promote my records when I can get out and promote my own records. And I'm my own worst critic. I'm not going to leave the studio until I'm 100% comfortable with it. And I don't keep yes men around me. I feel like my time's gonna last. I'm like 75% done with the album [Self-Made]right at this point. Right now I'm working on doing more songs with like the R&B feel to them. But not too left field, you know still with the edge. I'm going in with Ne-Yo this week, Trey Songz he sent me some stuff. Just finishing up that part of the album right now.Perseverance pays off. [After listening to my album] they will see that it's no limit to the amount of things you can accomplish in life. And that you're not limited to being successful because of where you come from or because of your upbringing. I'm the hood hope. I'm not saying my story is just the most unique because a lot of rappers came from nothing to something. But all I can do is tell you about me, tell you about the businessman that I am outside of the music to where I don't need the music. Music as of right now, that's where my love is. That's where my heart is right now.[Rocko "Woke Up"]