Tag Archives: Roach Gigz

The Year. 4. I got hoes tryna fuck me through my publicist.

4. Roach Gigz – Bitch I’m A Player [US]

“There’s lads in Finglas that sound like this chap.” As part of my ongoing campaign to get the dude who got me into rap in the first place to appreciate that you don’t have to actually call yourself a lyrical prophet to be a good rapper, I sent him a Roach Gigz video. He pretty much responds the same way every time, but there might be something to this for once. Do I like Roach Gigz because he has a dirty moustache and looks like the kind of guy who’d call you a faggot and then laugh and say you’re a sound lad and hug you in such a way that it turned into a headlock outside a chipper at 4am? Because he’s familiar, in other words? Hopefully not. There’s enough reasons to justify fucking with Roach Gigz without having to sit around feeling guilty about race issues afterwards. First off, this is a dude with weird, interesting things to say, or at least a weird, interesting way of saying things.

The opener, Fuck A Chorus, feels like the monumental track, full of drive and purpose even though it’s not exactly about anything. But like those Lil Wayne songs where he sounds full of drive and purpose even though it’s not exactly about anything, it still seems like you get all the important information, like Roach Gigz being from the Bay Area and liking sex, interspersed with batshit punchline statements like “when I get rich, Imma have midget doormen who make me feel important”. He’s having fun, which is clear across the whole tape. It seems like some people thought it was a sub-par version of the type of ADD rap he did on Can I Rap, but to me, this was the big moment on the tape, the one that sounds like a mission statement as well as just a blap.

The beats, exclusively by C-Loz, contribute heavily to the slightly manic atmosphere, especially on songs like Big Fat Beat (which is a big fat beat pegged on a vocal hook consisting of the words “big fat beat” over and over) or Drugs, the most popular Roach Gigz song on Spotify, which is around an old-timey newsreader type voice saying the word “drugs”. The bass is big, the percussion pops, things are shot through with hints of techno and they’re not afraid to cut up Roach’s voice to serve the song. When it’s up-tempo, the dude can shine, scattering punchlines about being crazy, smoking blunts and liking riding. He fits that kind of beat, a party thing where lines catch you here and there and make you laugh or just think, “fuck yeah”.

Just being crazy for the guts of an hour would probably get tiring though, and the thing that makes this feel like a keeper, the kind of tape you call great rather than just fun, is the raps over slower beats, songs like Overdose and Headache. Being able to make these tracks as good as the fast ones is proof of depth of personality, a sign of a rounded rapper rather than a dude’s who just attention-grabbing. It’s tat sort of thing that seems to drive people to start talking about whether or not he’s going to get properly mainstream famous. He’s funny enough and white enough to do it, maybe, but it’s hard to pick ways that Bitch I’m A Player would be or could be better if it was an international sensation or even an A$AP level sensation, so from a fan’s perspective, what’s the fucking difference? Unlike Rocky or Tyler, none of the fun of Roach Gigz has anything to do with that weird fetishisation of the young rapper “learning his craft”, getting new releases and trying to figure out if he’s any better yet. The fun of Roach Gigz is that he’s already great.

It’s also tape full of “moments”, not just a succession of good tracks. Beyond the two central figures (Gigz and C-Loz), there’s an excellent selection of Bay Area rappers than are even more apparently crazy than Roach Gigz. Husalah and Lil B are on the same track, Stupid, which, at a breakneck tempo, is pretty remarkably weird. Gigz pays special tribute to Lil B by biting him thoroughly through his verse while Lil B, not to be outdone, responds to the challenge and the title of the song by delivering one of the dumbest verses in his huge catalogue of dumb verses, pulling off a total of 0.5 rhymes that don’t sound atrocious. When you take Husalah, who has an uncanny ability to sound mental even when he’s not saying particularly mental things, into account, you end up with the type of song that just results in a halo of question marks and an elevated heart rate. They let Lil B go last, obviously, because he’s the nicest.

It’s weird but it’s cool. Or it’s cool because it’s weird. And you definitely wouldn’t get it in Finglas (no shots at Finglas).

Willy Staley interviewed Roach Gigz and so did Noz and so did David Drake, make of that what you will.

Roach Gigz – Fuck A Chorus
Roach Gigz feat. Husalah and Lil B – Stupid Dumb Knock (remix)


Some rap reviews of varying merit from the past few months.

I review exclusively rap in Totally Dublin now because I am willing to do so and people into reviewing indie rock are easier to find I guess. I did a long one for One More Robot too. I am in the process of forming an argument in my mind that rap music is not only a separate genre but a mode unto itself – an action movie is a movie, but even if a play does a lot of the same things as a movie, it’s a different thing. Off the back of that, I’d plead that starting to review rap is like learning to do reviews all over again. The mode is different, so the criticism is different, and I’ve become gradually aware of how annoying an uninformed rock critic talking about rap is, no matter how good their intentions. I haven’t formed that modal argument fully yet, though, so all I can do is post some reviews.

Jay-Z and Kanye West – Watch The Throne
(Totally Dublin, September 2011)

Some albums are statement albums by virtue of the circumstances surrounding their release – a rapper getting out of jail, say. Others are statement albums because they arrive from nowhere with a fully-formed, confident, unique sound. But sometimes it’s just a de facto statement album, because you’re probably the two most famous rappers in the world and everyone’s already paying attention. And you’ve called yourselves, by implication, The Throne. It’s not surprising that Jay-Z and Kanye came up with “throne” either. There can only be one king, but a throne can theoretically fit two, and it gives Kanye a great opportunity to patronise an up and coming upholsterer in Milan or somewhere. The music is lavish, as you’d expect. But this album’s only important because it’s already important.

Kanye is best where Jay-Z is weakest which, rather than making for a ‘best of both worlds’ situation (shouts out R. Kelly), means that neither seems like they’re making the album they should be making. Kanye’s not a technical rapper. He’s most interesting when he’s making ridiculous statements – “this is something like the holocaust” as the opening line of bro-step banger Who Gon Stop Me, for example. Jay-Z at this point in his career needs exactly the right context to avoid sounding old and staid. The scenarios he finds himself in alongside Kanye, who at one point advises his future son to avoid telethons, undermine even his fresher flows. On Niggas In Paris, for example, Jay-Z lays down a textbook verse about being so successful he no longer cares. Kanye then rolls in and manages to mention Prince William, Mary-Kate, Ashley, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and a Margiela jacket, whilst also noting that he is in Paris.

It’s hard to tell whether this was Kanye The Scrappy Kid’s idea, wanting to trade bars with his Hall of Famer mentor, or Gwyneth Paltrow’s Friend Jay-Z’s, wanting to hang on to relevance. It’s got flashes of genius, mostly from Kanye, but it is some heavily unnecessary stuff and it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) really mean anything for rap in general. Which is sad, considering what it could have been.


Gucci Mane & Waka Flocka Flame – Ferrari Boyz
(One More Robot, September 2011)

Gucci Mane, out of prison for the time being at least, is the postmodern man’s current king of the South, with a history of squeezing baseless absurdities into raps about cocaine. Waka Flocka Flame, his protégé and former literal weed-carrier, is the king of being insufferable in a club, encouraging all and sundry to throw gang signs, steal girlfriends and start fights. But they don’t always fit together, which is what they try to do fifteen times on Ferrari Boyz.

Maybe the best way to squeeze the most juice out of this collaboration would have been to make it a Gucci Mane album with a Waka Flocka Flame hooks, ad libs and three words per line final verses. But Flockaveli blew up, so like Jay-Z and Kanye on Watch The Throne, there’s some kind of implied parity here. With the two on equal standing, the strategy they’ve chosen is to flex over mean-mugging Southside beats. It’s not the fuck the club up party rap of Flockaveli, but it seems like Flocka territory, or at least the implication that it might be seems to have an effect on Gucci, who reins in his wholesale, non-sequitur-filled, insane flow and tries to play along. Of course there’s weirdness. It’s Gucci Mane and Waka Flocka Flame. But it tends to come in the form of double take-inducing lines about driving a Ferrari like it was a Chevy, wedged amongst auto-pilot bars about being stoned or rich and even, at various points, Wiz Khalifa shout outs.

There’s wandering 808s and roof-scraping synth arpeggios with the guys who made that the legitimate default beat choice in modern rap, so there are highlights. Suicide Homicide, with Wooh Da Kid, has an eminently chantable hook and plenty of horrific lyrical bases touched (such as “putting seven in your chest” like “M. Vick” and “cooking up babies, call that shit abortion). The beat on 15th And The 1st is more mysterious than threatening, and though he’s still on B game even compared to his last mixtape Writings On The Wall 2, it seems like the most comfortable territory for Gucci on the record. It’s also got Flocka executing his traditional role to perfection: half-singing a hook about having a stomach so full that’s he’s burping hundreds. YG Hootie, solidifying his position as third best Bricksquad member, delivers a decent verse that acknowledges his anger about not actually selling records in his own right. Later, on Pacman, Flocka manages to deliver a verse that confusingly doesn’t make any mention of the fact that his name is the sound Pacman makes while eating pills and being chased by ghosts. Which is a missed opportunity, given that that’s a pretty functional blurb for his whole persona.

In the final instance, the value of Ferrari Boyz will be as a museum piece exemplifying an entire genre. It’s further proof of the fact that one and one doesn’t necessarily always give two with rap records, especially when you’re dealing with people who’ve made their name off tracks where they’ve had space to let their idiosyncracies out with no self-consciousness. That it’s not even better than the last solo mixtape by each rapper is telling in that respect. But you could use it to teach post-Lex Luger ham rap to your hip hop class, for the same reason you get someone with a neutral accent to teach a language to kids. To call it ‘by numbers’ is uncharitable but not far off.


Das Racist – Relax
(Totally Dublin, October 2011)

Self-awareness is something only comedy rap troupe ever to school you on Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak possess in almost dangerous quantities, so there’ll always be something slightly unwholesome about their off-hand punchlines about expensive cheese and being Eric Clapton. But their free association postmodern pop culture flow is confident now and the chaff has been discarded. They’re fun, different to anyone else, and there are serious ideas behind those raised eyebrows.


Lil B – Im Gay (Im Happy)
(Totally Dublin, 2011)

All praise be to Based God, but as laudable as his positive message is, he’s only really compelling when you can’t tell whether he’s serious or not. Im Gay (with no apostrophe) fulfilled its meme generation purpose by making everyone shocked that a rapper would call a record that, but the raps, though improving technically, are still not great. Clams Casino comes through with Unchain Me, but Lil B doesn’t seem to know what he’s saying.


Roach Gigz – Bitch I’m A Player
(Totally Dublin, August 2011)

It’s not that surprising that putting a big personality over dumb slaps results in more great music from the Bay Area. Over twelve C-Loz tracks (one of which is literally built around a sample of the words “big fat beat”), Roach Gigz is skilled and funny, rapping about holes in his brain from drug abuse and women trying to get to him through his publicist. Another for the ‘next to blow up’ column, but more of this is enough if he doesn’t.


Hip Hop Monday #12: The soil where the rappers be gettin’ they lingo from.

Bay Area music from this year that I like, in YouTube format.

Andre Nickatina & The Jacka – Square Crows [San Francisco]

E-40 – Rear View Mirror [Vallejo]

Lil B – Unchain Me [Berkeley]

Young L – Domo Style [Berkeley]

Roach Gigz – Big Fat Beat [San Francisco]

Main Attrakionz – Swaggin Hard [Oakland]

and of course herself… [Oakland]