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Friday, March 21, 2008
3:43 PM



“What’s on ya mind?” is a question rapper Rocko poses on “Dis Morning” – the kick off track from his debut album, Self-Made. He quickly ends any speculation by answering, “The only thing on my mind is money, money, money” – a sentiment conveyed on just about every single track that follows.

With money on his mind, Rocko spends much of the hour talking about the almighty dollar. How it drives him to hustle; how it helps him stay fly; how it’s gotten him out of a dire situation; how he’ll never go back to a pre-money having existence.

Perhaps that’s why he takes a very safe approach in subject matter with his first release. Self-Made is the quintessential mainstream hip-hop album of this decade: A beat driven ode to money and materialism complete with several thug references to preserve street credibility.

It’s a blueprint mainly used for emcees with talents that can only be deemed marginal at best. Such is the case with Rocko, who with lines like “You make it sprinkle/I make it tsunami,” is fortunate to rap only for fortune given that any hope of gaining respect for his lyrical skills went under with that very surge of water.

Though Rocko may not be putting much activity into his pen and pad, he’s certainly making sure his time spent at the mall isn’t wasted. If you didn’t catch Rocko’s affinity for Louis Vuitton on the album’s first single, “Umma Do Me,” he reminds you throughout several tracks on Self-Made. That free publicity doesn’t end with that noted designer, however. Rocko is big on Gucci, too.

Besides breaking new ground with references to his passion for fashion, Rocko shares musings on another topic new to hip-hop -- the treacherous gold-digger. Rocko has some choice words for female pursers trying to mask their greed under the guise of an “I love you.” Though “That’s My Money” is intended to serve as a warning to all those hoping to pull the okie doke over Rocko, one has to wonder why he’s so surprised that some women are only interested in his money when it’s the only subject he seems to speak with passionately.

Nevermind. That would require much more thought than the artist intended to provoke. I suppose we can surmise his stance the way singer and the mother of his children, Monica, does when she sings, “A thug need love, too.” (“Thugs Need Love Too”) That’s love produced without a receipt, I suppose.

Back to what really matters -- Rocko’s money. The rapper takes his Jeezy-like flow to let us know that his “Old Skools costs more than your new school,” (“Old Skool”), he enjoys spending money like there’s no tomorrow (“Tomorrow”), but his swagger is priceless (“Priceless”).

At a time when rap sales are on a noted decline, it’s interesting to find so many rappers still so superfluous with their spending habits. Now that we’ve reached the era of the ringtone rapper, it’s a good thing Rocko’s swagger is priceless because all that he raps about isn’t. Rocko the hustler will be tested now that he’ll have to pay for his Louis, Gucci, and those bottles he likes to pop on the sales of .99 cent singles versus $10-$15 full fledge albums. As for the now-transparent genre in general, it’s likely we’ll have to listen to several more Rocko’s before it dawns on anyone that while their lyrical content has yet to change, the game has.


The Cynical Ones.
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