Rocko: Me, Myself & I
Taking a personal mantra and flippin it into the swagger filled single "Umma Do Me" was natural for ATLien Rodney "Rocko Da Don" Hill. Although his debut disc Self Made has introduced his sound to a national audience, Rocko was already a proven taste-maker on the southern rap scene.
His label, Rocky Road, started out in 2002 as a development company to give Rocko a chance to cultivate his growing interest in music production. I was infatuated with the way people produced music from scratch, how you go in and make something out of nothing, Rocko said. He found success with one of his first signees, Sammy Sam, with the release of "Step Daddy" and went on to sign with Universal. Rockos next project involved working with childhood friend Young Dro who moved on to sign with T.I.s Grand Hustle imprint. Rocky Road also found success producing hits for dirty south staples Dem Franchize Boyz, Pastor Troy and Lil Flip.
Deciding he wanted to make the move from A&R and production for his label to becoming an artist on it, Rocko recorded the Drumma Boi-produced "Umma Do Me" and self promoted the cut locally. Two years later, in the middle of finalizing a deal, Def Jams Shakir Stewart reached out. Once Stewart convinced him to fly up and meet with L.A. Reid, the deal was sealed in a day. There were no negotiations. They had their mind made up, according to Rockos Def Jam bio. I couldnt even leave the building.
In the middle of promoting Self Made, the man who has declares himself the best thing since the microwave gets personal (minus much discussion about his relationship with the mother of his children, R&B songstress Monica) with HipHopDX about being self made and how charisma mixed with flow will take him straight to the top.
HipHopDX: What is Hip Hop missing that Rocko is bringing?
Rocko: Swag. Rocko is bringing swagger to the industry.
DX: In what way?
Rocko: Charisma. Im so charismatic to where Im nothing like youve ever seen before.
DX: Young Dro, Dem Franchize Boyz, and Lil Flip. Some might say you brought attention to them from the majors. What do you say?
Rocko: I say I concur.
DX: Titling the album Self Made means what?
Rocko: [It] means Im a self made entrepreneur. Self made person. Self made everything. Everything I did I did it on my own. No one gave me anything. I got out and bust my ass getting where I am today. Thats why I consider myself self made.
DX: You dont like to be asked about your personal life because.
Rocko: Because I dont want to mix my personal with professional. Right now its about Rocko as an entertainer. As a rapper. Professionally.
DX: Why do you think it was necessary for you to come out on this whole swagger style? Do you think there arent a lot of people trying to do them?
Rocko: I think its a lot of hating going on. A lot of people let off a lot of negative energy rather than focusing on themselves. Rather than focusing on themselves, they focus on what other people are doing and not doing them. Dont worry about what other people are doing. Thats where the song comes in. Just do you. Dont worry bout nobody else. Dont worry about what this man doing. Dont worry about what Cindy Lou got. Dont worry about what Ray Charles got. Whoever. Do you. Thats what the song means. You could take it for what its worth. Take it for what it is. You do you.
DX: Your swag comes across in your music. Why was it important for your swag to come out?
Rocko: I feel like its important because I want you to be able to feel me through my music. I want you to listen to my music. I want you to be able to feel that this is nothing you have ever heard before. You never met a person like me. You never heard a person like me. Im me. Real talk. This is something I want people to know. Im the last of a dying breed and they better try and clone me. There is no one out here like me. Im the future. Im the new south.
DX: And whats separating you from the old south?
Rocko: Its because I am, like I said, self made. I cant really speak on all the rest of these people, but there are a few people thats rapping that I know for a fact that its not them. But they are good rappers and artist.
DX: When you say them you mean their real personalities?
Rocko: Just them period. They are not who they say they are. Im not the type of person to put them on blast, but at the same time, thats what I mean when I say that. Im me. And you can get used to it.
DX: So nobody put you on. You had to put your own self on.
Rocko: I came from nothing to something. Thats what self made means. And even if someone tried to give me something I wouldnt take it. I wanna work for it.
DX: What does it mean to you that you got where you are with no help.
Rocko: It gives me a hardI almost said something. [Laughs] It gives me a rush. In this music, a lot of people and artists try to use popular people as a crutch to get somewhere. Im the total opposite. I want you like me for me. I want you buy into me for me. I dont want you to buy into me because Kanye is on my record. With Self Made, since it was all about me, and I grind hard for every coin I got, I wanted it to be all about me. Listen to my music and get into me. Dont buy me because I got 50 Cent. Buy it because its me. Im on my single by myself. I came in the world by myself and Ill leave by myself. So why not do everything else by myself?
DX: So with this album, it was all about you. Are you open to collabs in the future?
Rocko: This is my first album. What I look like coming out on my first album making a compilation? This song featuring this one and that one.
DX: You signed through your own label Rocky Road. Was there any way the deal could have been done without it?
Rocko: There was no other way to do it. Any other way was unacceptable. It was important because Im the one that put in all this hard work. Im the one that drove thousands of miles to promote myself. That was the only route to go.
DX: After someone cops Self Made what are they going to know about you as an artist?
Rocko: I want them to know me. I want them to feel my pain. I want them to know everything Ive been through and my experiences. I want them to learn from my experiences so they dont have to go through what I been through. I have records on my album like Karma that tell about experiences that I learned from. Thats why I am such a good person now. I know you get what you put in it. You put out good you get good. You put out bad you get bad. I want people to listen to those types of records and dissect them, take them for what they are worth, and apply them to everyday life.
DX: Since you said you were the new south, what is the track on Self Made thats going to get have your southern rap fans bouncing?
Rocko: If you from the south, [the track] "Old School." In Atlanta we get into the old cars. Well put $100,000 into an old car in a minute.
DX: You got your down south joint, but whats going to be the single that takes Rocko national?
Rocko: I try not to listen to my music because I dont want it to get old to me. "Karma" or "Hustle Fo." Everyone can relate to that. I got Lloyd singin the hook on that. I only have two featured artists on my album Monica and Lloyd.
DX: Any parting words?
Rocko: I respect everyones hustle and grind. If you winnin, you poppin. Self Made. The album of the year. Rocko Da Don. Best thing since the microwave. Fried potatoes. Broccoli. Everything. The whole nine. The best thing since McDonald's.