Despite the Internet taking down the archetypal levies that kept aspiring rappers from getting heard, females haven’t gained much traction. On top of that, the few females who do break through fill the same sexpot roles vacated by their predecessors. Meanwhile, their male counterparts have been afforded the luxury to branch out (if they have the cojones) stylistically. Unfazed by these seemingly rigid guidelines, Bay Area femcee Rocky Rivera aims to succeed on her own terms. On her eponymous debut, Ms. Rivera makes a great first impression and proves she’s more than able to hang with the fellas.
Probably not since Lauryn Hill or Eve in her early stages, has the female perspective been presented as anything other than catering to a man’s desires or being the baddest chick. Presenting herself as a revolutionary with round the way girl sensibilities, Rivera has created a lane where she isn’t obligated to stay in one box. One moment she’s flexing her mic control muscles and ready to take on all challengers (“MRSHMLO” & “Complex”), then the next, she’s chastising men for foolishly passing her over on the climactic “I Am Gone.” All the while she’s exhibiting a cool confidence that lets the listener know she’s portraying nothing more than herself. But what puts Rocky a cut above the fray is her revolutionary/grass roots based ideals which are littered throughout the album.
This especially hits home on the lyrically dense “Heart.” Over a simple guitar loop & organ infused backdrop provided by 6Fingers, Rivera highlights a few branches on her revolutionary family tree. Steady in pace and simple in her wording, she lets the power of the protagonists’ stories carry the song. But don’t think all her time is dedicated to the cause, because Rocky isn’t above hitting the dance floor–on her own terms. On a “Girl Like Me,” the Dancehall/Auto-Tune infused tune, she creates a nice track to keep the party going. The same can’t be said for “Trick Habit,” a ‘50s inspired cautionary tale for bed hopping fellows. While not completely deplorable, the concept fares better in theory as it doesn’t really fit in sonically with the rest of the album.
Speed bumps like this are few and far between, only momentarily disrupting the flow of the album. With the content going back and forth in terms of subject matter, it’s the production which gives the album its center. Consisting of dusty Soul loops and/or minimalistic synth & bass combos, the talents of 6Fingers, CZA, Keelay & Zaire and Fat Gums provide Rocky with an array of beats that carry as much heat as the words she spits. Aside from a few tweaks sequence wise or dropping a track here or there, Rocky delivers all one can ask for on a debut album. She lets the listeners know who she is, proves she deserves to be around and warrants the demand for a follow up.
Previously Posted — TSS Presents Smoking Sessions With Rocky Rivera