Before releasing his much anticipated solo debut album, Rock's place in Hip-Hop history was already cemented. In addition to his discography on notable solo mixtapes, he is a card carrying member of Boot Camp Clik and, of course, released three acclaimed albums as Heltah Skeltah, alongside the late Sean Price. But it's this project, 'Rockness A.P.', that provides a fully formed look at the proud Brownsville native and what it means to move on with your career after suffering such a tragic loss (the "A.P." stands for "After Price").
If your first thought is to ask why this album took so long to come together, Rock addresses it directly on the straight-up flooring title track. Armed with his trademark bass heavy voice, the emcee unpacks exactly what happened in his career so far--the good, the bad, and the ugly--over a fittingly emotional instrumental from The Arcitype. "Rockness A.P." is brutally honest, and it represents the best of what defines his artistry: no-bullshit lyricism delivered through an incredibly expressive lens.
You hear more of this, albeit with varied subject matter, on other standout tracks, most of which are produced by the duo of Ford Tuff & Pascal Zumaque. There's the threatening bully talk of "Wishin'" featuring Kuniva (of D12), the grimy braggadocio of "FaxMachine" featuring fellow Brownsville natives M.O.P., and the cypher-esque hype of "Camp-Wu" featuring Inspectah Deck, Method Man, Tek, and Steele. These cuts highlight both the versatility of Rock's subject matter and his cadence. He may have that unmistakable growl as his go-to weapon, but his arsenal includes a shape-shifting delivery as well.
To say the wait has been worth it for 'Rockness A.P.' almost feels like an understatement. But it also feels as if we're overlooking the fact that Rock's career to date has been damn near untouchable. It may have had the ups and downs described on the title track--particularly the tragic loss of his longtime rap partner, Sean P--but one thing's clear: Rock's energy and passion for creating Hip-Hop has never wavered.
'Rockness A.P.', which was executive produced by Phil Anastasia, is available now on all major streaming services and digital platforms, and can be purchased on CD via Digital Déjà Vu Records. Vinyl pre-orders are now available via Fat Beats for a December 15 release date.