For a while now, the Seattle/Tacoma area hasn’t just become a hoops hotbed for elite players â€“ Brandon Roy, Aaron Brooks and Washington’s Isaiah Thomas to name a few â€“ it’s also been home to a diverse and talented hip hop underground. It’s an inner circle that Tacoma resident, Zach Powers, aka Rockwell Powers, is now a vibrant member of. And beyond laying it down on the mic in stages across his area, Powers is also a fanatic of all things roundball.
Powers, who is also a grad student at The Evergreen State College, migrated Eastward from his hometown of Anchorage, Alaska after high school and has found a home secluded in the upper Pacific Northwest. After deciding to take his passion for rapping straight to the recording studio about five years ago, he has continued to produce tracks and EP’s with producers all around the city. And in the process, he’s also become a mainstay on the community’s growing music scene. His current musical love baby is “Kids In The Back II,” an EP follow up with producer Ill Pill dropping this weekend in Tacoma. But for those of you outside of Washington State, you can still catch the album.
For the Dime fam, Rockwell has already breathed life into more than a few memorable DimeTV segments, including our Derrick Rose summer workout tape last July.
So, with the NBA playoffs looming and his release soon on the horizon, we caught up with Rockwell to get his take on everything.
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Dime: What’s been your path through basketball over the years?
Rockwell Powers: Basketball was my first passion. Fell in the love with the game in elementary school and it was truly the focus of my life (much to my parents and teachers’ frustration) from ages 8-18. Played at open gyms 5 or 6 days a week all year round â€“ I was the type of kid to go hoop at a rec center after an afternoon JV practice. Was also lucky enough to win an Alaska 3A state championship my senior year of school. Since then, I haven’t been able to play very regularly with school and music, but I’m still a college hoops and NBA fanatic.
Dime: Who are your squads?
RP: Well I mentioned being from Anchorage (Alaska); I was in the same grade as Mario Chalmers and played against him often in city leagues and what not, so my favorite team is the Heat because he plays for them. Besides the Heat, I root for the West Coast teams: Lakers and Blazers. Blazers killed me though with some of their trades last year, dumping (Jerryd) Bayless and (Martell) Webster hurt.
Dime: So who is surprising you in the League right now?
RP: I think the success of the Bulls because hoops pundits are so convinced you need multiple superstars to win ‘ships. No matter what Chicago fanboys might say, neither (Carlos) Boozer or (Luol) Deng are true stars. They have great role players, fringe stars and the MVP, and I wouldn’t want to see them in the playoffs.
Dime: How about whose games you respect and follow the most?
RP: The present player whose game I probably appreciate the most is Lamar Odom. I love dudes who can literally do everything on the court, and not only can do everything, but are willing to do everything. Odom does what the Lake Show needs to win any given night, so I like that. For past players, it’s Gary Payton (R.I.P. the Sonics). I LOVED that dude growing up, everything from his defense, to his little man post up game, to his trash talk. There will never be another Glove.
Dime: What’s the single most important thing that you’ve learned, and are learning, from trying to come up and make a name for yourself in the industry?
RP: That when you work hard and stay focused, things happen at the right time. I’ve tried to rush things in my career, tried to walk through doors when they weren’t open yet â€“ not being patient enough to wait for them. Now that I’ve been at this for about 5 years, I’ve been able to reach a lot of my goals and as I set new ones, I remind myself that they might not all happen in the next month, or even the next 6 months.
Dime: Who are the cats that you’re bumping in the iPod lately?
RP: As far as national stuff, a lot of J. Cole and Emilio Rojas. I usually resist blog anointed rappers at first, but those are the two new schoolers that I’ve really become fans of. I’m also heavy into the new Pharoahe Monch record. And honestly, I’m listening to a lot of dudes from my region, like Macklemore, J. Pinder, Grynch, and City Hall. This particular week I’m listening to a lot of Raphael Saadiq because I’m going to his show in Seattle tomorrow night.
Dime: As for music, you’re still relatively new to the game, but are gaining some traction out in the Pacific Northwest. What’s next in terms of coming out with projects and collaborations?
RP: I have an album coming out on April 16, called “Kids in the Back 2”. It’s produced entirely by Ill Pill, so our names are both on it. It will be available for free download at www.kidsintheback.bandcamp.com or to purchase on iTunes, search “Rockwell Powers & Ill Pill”. We’ve also been working on a little of visuals to go with the album. Check out YouTube for three new music videos to songs from the new album!
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