by: Alyssa Menard
With six mixtapes already under his belt and a studio album in the works, Roccett’s skyrocketing career is definitely ready for launch. With a West Coast zip code, an East Coast swagger and backing by the South, this rapper is proving that true talent has no region. So what’s life like for a fresh face in demand that’s already snagged a record deal and an ad campaign for two clothing lines?
In an exclusive interview with Rap Industry, Roccett delves into this and more, discussing life in Cali , his hook-up with Jeezy, the state of hip hop, as well as his not-so-secret hobbies.
You’ve been doing your thing over in the West for some time now, but you’re still relatively new to the game. So for those who don’t know, tell us when you first started rapping, and how you got into it.
Roccett: I’ve been rapping for what seems like forever, but its only been six or seven years.
I’ve been doing it all my life, but when I turned 18 or 19 all of my homies were telling me “you know, you should go in the studio”. One in particular, my homeboy Dimes, was like “I’ll get you the time. I’ll pay for your studio time or whatever, we just need to get you in there.” So I went in there and made a song or two and everything came out hot. Ever since then, I’ve been in the booth.
You grew up in Carson, CA. For me being a New Yorker, I don’t really know what that was like. So why don’t you tell me how life is over there in the West and how you think it influenced your music.
Roccett: Laughs. The west coast is crazy man. Every place in the west coast almost seems as if it’s gang infested. Carson is not as bad as Compton or Long Beach, but we’re so close to them that we’ll get Compton dudes that’ll come over or we’ll go over there. We’ve got our share of gangs and our share of good parts too, but it’s like any other west coast city and you’ve got
to watch your back and be careful where you go.
You’ve said before that fellow West Coast rapper Knocturnal actually helped teach you the song making process. I interviewed Knoc recently and he had mentioned that a problem was that a lot of times when a West coast rapper has the ability to cross over they tend to rely on East coast rappers to get them out there and don’t really help put on the other West Coast cats. Do you think there’s an issue with west coast rappers and if so, what is it?
Roccett: I think it’s an issue with a lot of rappers and not just necessarily the east or the west or the south. I think that sometimes rappers just get stuck within their region, you know, when you’ve been hearing or doing this kind of music for so long that you don’t know how to expand and change. There’s a lot of rappers like that and you just have to be one of the exceptional rappers. When the time comes, you have to know when put the ball in between your legs and bust a move. I can’t wait until my opportunity comes, because I’m not scared of nothing. We can do the crossover, we can do the street…we can do it all.
I had a chance to check out a couple of your sites and you’ve been all over, going to different conferences and appearing at different events. You’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of people, and ask a lot of questions. What would you say was the best piece of advice that you were given about trying to make it in this industry?
Roccett: Personally, the best advice I’ve ever gotten is to be patient. Everything in the music business is basically timing and you try hard, you’re grinding and you keep trying. It isn’t even necessarily your talent anymore or what you’re doing, it’s about timing. There are a lot of people that’ll have fifteen mixtapes out and have never made it, and there are people that have put out one mixtape and made it. It’s all about timing, and when your time comes you just have to be ready.
Back to meeting different people, somewhere along the line you and Jeezy crossed paths, because you’re now signed to his label CTE West. How does a hot up and coming West Coast rapper go about getting signed by one of the hottest rappers in the South?
Roccett: Man, I met Jeezy in the streets. I really don’t look at it as south, or east, or west. I just look at it like I’m a real individual and he’s a real individual as far as his music and what he does, and when we met we just kind of clicked. He didn’t even know I was a rapper at first, and we just met on some real cool stuff, you feel me? Then he heard something, and as soon as he heard something it was like he had to sign me. It was really that quick.
You’re big in the mixtape game right now. You’re on your sixth mixtape already, am I right?
Roccett: Yeah, most definitely. I’ve already done six of them already and I’m not stopping; I’m working on another one right now. So for anybody that thought that I was finished, I got another one coming asap.
So you’ve been pretty much doing this for a while. Why do you think you’re able to keep cranking them out and still have such a buzz around them, when its pretty safe to say the mixtape market is flooded with tons of mixtapes that don’t get too much attention?
Roccett: There’s also a lot of garbage mixtapes out there, you feel me? I really take pride in my music, and I’m going to sit there until I get it right. If I don’t feel the song is on the level, or even close to being on the level of a solid song then I’m not going to put it out. Just because I do a song doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to come out. I’m really in there at batting practice, just trying to knock one out the park and that’s truly what it is. I treat my mixtapes like my albums and I really try to go in there and put my heart and soul into it. I’m for real about this, you know what I mean? A lot of people just rap, and it’s just a hobby. To me, this right here is my life. I wake up this, I sleep this, I bleed this…it’s just what I do. It’s for real to me, which is why I think I get to maintain it like that.
What do you have in the works in terms of a studio album, and when do you expect to drop it?
Roccett: We were talking about September, but we’re not official on that date. I’ve been recording songs for the album, and we’ve already got a couple that have been tucked away. They’re sitting in the gun waiting to let off. We’re still recording for hopefully the end of this year, but if not, I’m not tripping because we can wait until the beginning of next year. I’m just with the grind, and I’m waiting it out.
Are you working on any guest appearances? If not, who would you want to collaborate with?
Roccett: I want to work with Dr. Dre for sure, I’d love to do that. But as far as guest appearances, I’ve already had a lot of appearances on just my mixtapes as far as Young Buck, Gorilla Zoe, Akon, Jeezy, and Slick Pulla. I’ve had so many appearances already that I’m not even focused on those. I’m really just trying to make sure that I can do that best that I can as far as me in the studio, to let the world see me. Everybody already knows the Jeezys and the Young Bucks. They’re already superstars that have gone platinum and I’m trying to get there. I’m going to give you me, and hopefully it work’s out.
A lot of people have said that they feel that hip hop is a dying art. How do you feel about the state of hip hop right now, and what do you think could be done to regain music lovers’ confidence?
Roccett: I don’t think that hip hop is dead, I think that it is what it is right now. Hip hop is like, you’ll have one single and they push you and never put you out again. I’m not here to knock anybody else’s hustle if that’s how they feel. If that’s how they want to go out and get there money, I respect that. As far as me, I’m an artist. I’m not just looking for one single, I’m looking for twenty singles and I need to be able to follow up with that asap. I think hip hop is just lacking artists with a lot of talent that are really focused on this. I guess once you get some money, you stop being hungry. But to me, a real artist would feel that the music is what makes you stop being hungry. The money is always good if that’s what you’re in the business for. But if you really love music, you just don’t know how to stop. That’s no matter what you do as far as being a basketball player, or the president of the world, you still play hard to get the championship even though you have millions. You can be a football player, a photographer or whatever you are, if you really love what you do, you will want to be the best and grind at it no matter how much money you make. I think a lot of people just focus on money and don’t really focus anymore on the art of making music.
One of the positive things I have noticed about the industry is the fact that a lot of rappers are branching off into different ventures. You yourself have already been featured in ad campaigns for the Blanco Label and Makaveli Branded clothing lines, which is a big look. How did those opportunities come to you?
Roccett: My manager Rick. That’s all him right there. He put his brain together, and his brain is crazy once he starts thinking and brainstorming. He’ll come up with ideas, or I’ll come up with ideas, and we’ll talk about it. That’s all Rick. That’s my real manager. Laughs. I’ve got some impostors out there, but this is my real manager.
You’ve always spoken highly of your manager. We’ve all seen many cases where new artists end up with managers that are more like figure heads that will take cuts out of their checks without truly doing their job. But, it’s pretty apparent that he’s been a very big part of your career. When did you guys link up?
Roccett: Man, it’s been about two years now. Me and him are like family and we don’t really call it like ‘manager’ and ‘artist’. We’re a couple like your brother or your uncle or whatever and that’s the kind of relationship we have. We look at it as us grinding together, and it’s not like I’m the big artist and he’s manager or he’s the big manager and I’m the little artist. We’re just two regular people out on the street grinding, and we hooked up because he liked he my music and I was a fan of his grind…we’ve been doing this ever since. We chop it up and figure out our next move, then we step on the gas and go.
You’ve been making a lot of moves and working on different projects. Let us know
what else you’re working (or trying to work) on right now aside from your music?
Roccett: We’ve been doing the ads and some people have been saying things about movie roles, but right now I’m all the way in music mode. I’m really just trying to find out my next step as far as this music, what I want to do, and what kind of moves I want to make. All those options are open and I’m with doing any of those, but right now I’m just focused on my music.
Your schedule definitely sounds pretty hectic right now. What do you like to do when you’re not working on something? Into any secret hobbies? I want the juicy stuff, like if you knit in your free time. Laugh.
Roccett: I’m a die-hard Laker fan for sure and I try to catch every game. I don’t care if I’m out of town, if they don’t have ESPN I’m sick because I gotta catch the Laker game! I like to work out on my free time, I play basketball, hang out with my family and just do the regular everyday stuff. I’ll just grab some Jack in the Box and sit and watch Sportscenter all day. If me and my manager aren’t doing anything, we’ll just call each other and bag on each other’s teams. We go hard for the sports, but that’s pretty much it. I’m just an everyday regular dude trying to chill, workout and have a good time, and get back in the studio.
Seeing that you are busy and on the road a lot, does that give you any time for relationships? Any girlfriends, or a lot of groupies?
Roccett: Laughs at groupie question. I mean, I’m just going to say ‘you know’ on that one.
We’re going to leave that one vague.
There’s my answer. So as we wrap it up, is there anything you want to let the readers know about what you have coming up?
Roccett: I got my At the Crib mixtape, and that’s already out. Go get my Colors mixtape, my West in Full, my America’s Most Wanted, man get all of my mixtapes. You can Google them and find them on there. I got another tape coming out, but I’m not sure what we’re going to call it. I’m just in the studio trying to do me right now, just trying to stay focused and knock these songs out. When I talk to my fans I tell them to buy my music, but I also tell them that regardless of whatever you’re doing in your life, just keep striving for what you want to be. A lot of times people just let the music speak, but sometimes my music might be “too gangsta” or “to street” for some people. I still encourage people to do whatever you can do in your life. Whether you have a regular job, or are a teacher, or are whatever, some days are going to be bad. Just stay focused and stay away from the haters. There are too many haters out here that are just negative, that are going to bring people down and stop their flow. I tell my fans, ‘keep doing you, and while you’re at at check out my music’.