Rocko – Self-Made
Island / Def Jam (3/18/08)
I can’t say I know a whole lot about Rodney “Rocko” Hill other than his oft-gossiped-about relationship with R&B hotness Monica. The Georgia native caught the eye and ear of the wee Jermaine Dupri—who co-executive-produced this album—dropped the single “Umma Do Me” and, as they say, a star is born.
Of course, “stardom” by today’s standards doesn’t involve the same level of ascension as it did a decade or so ago. Case in point—the aforementioned “Umma Do Me”. It’s a defiantly cocksure piece of posturing that’s been dumbed down for the MySpace age of ringtones and downloads. Rocko’s second single, “Tomorrow”, is a little more clever on the wordplay (“I’m too busy f****n’ 20s, got no time for dimes”) but will be long forgotten by its intended target of high school sophomores before they start their junior year.
Even though Monica hasn’t been relevant since she was trading syrupy barbs with Brandy in the late ’90s, she’s still got some pipes and they’re on display on the absurdly clichéd “Thugs Need Love Too”. It’s not quite as contrived as Tupac’s posthumous “Thugs Get Lonely Too” single, but it’s a photo finish.
Lloyd has the hook on “Hustle Fo” and has some work to do before we crown him the 2K8 Danny Boy. It doesn’t help that materialism rap has been done to death by a thousand rappers more talented than Rocko.
And, not to beat up on the guy, but does this rookie really have a track called “Old Skool”? Ah, turns out it’s another money and cars song. Whew… thought it was going to be about the legends that paved the way for this cookie-cutter caricature.
Rap is a young man’s game. That’s not something that’s up for debate, but come on. When you’ve been raised listening to wonderful lyricists spit, it really puts the meandering storytelling of tracks like “Snakes” and the insincere hunger and drive on “Meal” in their proper perspective. With apologies to the late ODB, Rocko for the kids.
Listen at your own risk.