Another Soundbwoy Buried...

Rock Mecca teams up with Bucktown’s legendary duo, Smif-N-Wessun, for "W.A.R.Lord II (Brookyn Remix)".  This reggae-tinged banger arrives right on time to be the theme music for these gritty New York City Summer blocks. 

The tracks channels Bob Marley’s iconic “WAR” record and turns it into a boom-bap banger, complete with cuts, sirens and gunshots, all over a catchy baseline provided by producer Jake Palumbo.

The single is slated to appear on Rock Mecca’s “FER” EP, to be released later this summer on Soulspazm Records.



Rock Mecca makes "Movements" on BoFaat Beatz's "Nothing But Kung Fu"

Rock Mecca appears on German producer BoFaat Beatz's compilation project “Nothing But Kung Fu” with a vintage boom bap track called “Movements”.

The track cleverly borrows from the megahit “Bodak Yellow” and give it an underground twist. Rock takes you on a ride through Gotham City as he makes moves, collecting his money.

“Nothing But Kung Fu" features luminaries of rap such as KIllarmy, Smoothe The Hustler, Nine and Kwest The Maad Lad, among others and can be found on BoFaat ‘s bandcamp page.

"One Rhyme To The Next" hits #1 on College Radio Charts

Rock Mecca’s single “One Rhyme To The Next”, featuring West Coast legend Ras Kass and Flipmode Squad empress Rah Digga, reached #1 on College Radio Hip-Hop Charts for the first week of July, according to rapattacklives.com. 

 

The single, which incorporates a popular bar from none other than Rakim, channels the 18th letter himself and is about refusing to dumb it down and championing lyricism over everything. “One Rhyme To The Next” was well received by DJs and continued to climb up the charts, powered by the performance of two rap heavyweights and the Queens lyricist, whose names all begin with the letter R.

 

“One Rhyme To The Next”, produced by France’s Dj DJO-One, is the first single from Rock’s upcoming EP “Fer”, which is slated to drop late summer.  The LP features Rah Digga, Ras Kass, Artifacts and many more. 

 

More details as soon as they become available.

Popolitickin.com [Interview] Artist Spotlight

What do you think defines a Queens emcee?

I think Queens emcees have always been able to maintain a balance between being street and being artistic. Also, they’ve been able to keep it New York but give off an appeal that’s more universal, which is why they usually reach higher heights, whether it’s Run DMC, LL Cool J, Tribe or 50 Cent. Queens is a very diverse borough so I’m guessing there’s something there that anyone from overseas or out of town can relate to. It’s also very competitive, so we always took pride in lyricism, regardless of the era we’re in.

What do you think surprises listeners the most about you?

It depends on who’s listening. The really jaded, hyper-critical listeners are surprised that I’m not the typical “street corner rapper from New York”. There’s a little more depth than the punch lines and tough talk they’re expecting from us at this point. I’m not the typical boom bap underground artist neither. What they call “backpack”. Casual listeners usually respond to the musicality. I always get someone who doesn’t listen to Hip-Hop telling me they were able to connect due to either the message or some of the references in the music that they’re able to pick up on.

What’s the reality of a career as an underground emcee of your stature these days? 

The reality is that you have more reach than you ever had but the market is more saturated than ever. So you get to be on the big stage but so does everybody else. With a lot of the blogs not highlighting the underground and some shutting down altogether, as well as a lot hip-hop venues also shutting down, the platforms are few and the attention span is short. You have to set up your own channels, drive the traffic there and monetize everything. Think outside the box. 

What does it take to truly get ahead?

Make the right connections, whether honest people willing to work or people that are connected and can assist in what you do. Also keep creating quality content and persevere. Finally you need money. I don’t like asking for favors and prefer to pay people for services. That way you can hold them to a certain standard and surround yourself with talent. It all adds up to quality. If the fans don’t associate you with quality, you won’t last.

What’s your favorite non-rap album of all time and why?

There are a lot but I’ll say Marvin Gaye’s I Want You album. That’s the first one that came across my head. The instrumentation and the songwriting on that, the ad-libs, background vocals, everything meshes perfectly on that album. Marvin and Leon Ware did a job on that. I can’t think of too many albums that are more cohesive. I can imagine the engineer had to do a lot of work. Incredible mixing and mastering. Everytime I listen I hear something new. Would love to pull that off in the Hip-Hop realm. 

What do you feel is the strongest line you’ve ever written and why?

I’ve written thousands of lines, so it’s hard to narrow it down or even remember some of them. Us rappers are always moving onto the next. Our next line is always our best line. Hopefully fans will listen to Ironworld and they’ll reach out and tell me which lines grabbed them the most. That’s really the ultimate test in the end. Whether you connected or not. If that happens I’ll report back.

Rapreviews.com review of "Ironworld"

Rock Mecca :: Ironworld :: SpaceLAB Recordings 
as reviewed by Steve 'Flash' Juon

Nearly six years ago I reviewed Rock Mecca's "Pirate Radio Star." As the name would suggest Rock styled himself as an underground broadcaster putting out the vibes that the people wanted/needed but had no other access to. As thematic albums go it was largely a success thanks to the commanding presence Mecca had on the mic, the quality of his production, and a liberal sprinkling of pop culture references that everybody from sci-fi nerds to Brooklyn hard rocks could relate to. He returns to that successful formula on "Ironworld" - not the one of the illegal radio deejay operating above the law, but the one of mixing touchstones of pop culture with hip-hop attitude. That was immediately evident on "W.A.S.C. (Rebel Anthem)" as the track immediately bounced from Joe Esposito's "You're the Best Around" (Karate Kid) to a sample of the piano keys on "Hulk Hogan's Theme" from "The Wrestling Album." Those keys come back loud and clear during the chorus as the deejay scratches Busta Rhymes ("Scenario") saying "Powerful impact, BOOM from the cannon." It's like somebody tried to capture every single thing I ever enjoyed from my childhood and college years all in one song -- oh and the lyrics are pretty good too.

"Rest in peace to the Mac Dad
It's like this and like that, as I stand here +Totally Krossed Out+
Not going the slave way I'm takin the boss route
You wanted me in a chain, you got it
24 karats, a habit, ciase now I gotta have it
Not tryna floss but had to carry the cross
Now the cost is turning me into some sort of a monster
So I can't be stopped
It's as if Scarface and Willie D are pushing me on a stretcher
But I'm never succumbing to the pressure, or settling for lesser
A treasure, through sun or stormy weather, I'm ready for whatever"

Rock gets extra points for referencing one of the most infamous album covers of all time and for doing an LL Cool J impression in the final verse. The pro wrestling tie in from sampling Hogan's theme wasn't a coincidence as the previous track was called "One Man Gang" and the very next track on the album is "Stone Cold." It opens with samples of a man Steve Austin knows quite well - "Iron" Mike Tyson. It's actually a recurring theme for "Ironworld" in general though - wrestling that is, not Mike Tyson specifically. I'll get to that in a second though. Take a moment to enjoy the jazzy backdrop of "Stone Cold," a song which sounds nothing like Austin's glass shattering backdrop (and that's just fine).

Now as for the sports or sports entertainment world, you could take a lot of "Ironworld" to be either the former or the latter. Athletes in both spheres talk a lot about the "Tunnel Vision" one needs to succeed working in front of a large crowd. "Prizefights" and "Coliseums" may suggest something a little more akin to boxing (and his uploads of these songs do feature the gloves) but even on the former song he says "the world is a squared circle" which brings me back to the grappling arts, and his words definitely reflect someone with more than a passing knowledge of Monday Night Raw and classic movies from 1979. I dig the patois chatta of Ratigan in the outro too.

"East Coast plots and west side stories
Some _Warriors_ victorious tryna make it to Coney
On the corner flippin whiteÊlike George the Animal Steele
Weapons not even concealed some of these cannibals kill
Talking bout these rappers fakin and we keepin it real
But next time you be see 'em on the Ave they shoppin a deal
I'm livin on the corner where fantasy meets reality
Where some'll blur the lines and sell it to you for a salary
You think you're in control but you only a customer
Getting high in your sleep thinkin nothin of life"

Other songs like "King of Kings" and "Survivor Series" leave absolutely no doubt as to where his head is at, but to be honest my single biggest markout moment was hearing legendary mixtape king DJ Ron G in the introduction of Rock Mecca's track "Stanley Cups." I think maybe we should just call the entirety of "Ironworld" sports related and leave it at that. He doesn't draw that much difference between the scripted ones and the competitive endeavors - he's just a conniseur of all of the different forms of fighting - even hockey fights.

At the end of the day I have to say that six years is far too long to go between Rock Mecca albums because I had forgotten just how good he is, and I think he's actually gotten a little bit better in the interim. The production from Jake Palumbo is on point from start to finish, and we haven't even addressed the high caliber of guest appearances that Mecca booked for this card. Roc Marciano drops in for "Gladiator Schools," Vast Aire and Kool Keith drop in on "Killa" and even long lost freestyle king Canibus comes in from out the cold to put hot bars on "Hell's Angels" like "Bear hug the gun barrel/drain blood from your bone marrow/shoot yo' ass out the saddle."I forgot how much I missed him too. According to the press kit he's also got albums in the works tag teaming with El Da Sensei and Ruste Juxx, and suddenly I'm excited about the level of grappling with mics those teams can bring to all competitors. Perhaps I'm the ideal candidate for what "Ironworld" has to offer but play the clips for youself and you might find that you are too.

Music Vibes: 8 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 8 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 8 of 10

An Ironworld Review by Hutch of 1377 Blog

This spring, Rock Mecca has released his second album, Ironworld, both being on Soulspazm Records. His flow is laid back but rough, like Lord Finesse or EPMD. But, entrenched in the slow flow is deep knowledge and desire to spread hope and encouragement. Layered production from Jake Polumbo of SPACELab paints gorgeous and musical tapestries. Polumbo has crafted beats for Rock and Pawz One on their recent killer LPs; mixed and mastered Shabaam Sahdeeq’s Keepers of the Lost Art along with credits on work for Sean Price, Royce Da 5'9", Roc Marciano, Ras Kass, Tony Touch, Smif-N-Wessun, Sadat X, Masta Ace, El Da Sensei, and The Beatnuts.

After an intro, we get into “King of Kings” which contemplates a Dead Prez/PE approach to the system’s mind control tactics. While I find the music underwhelming for an opening cut, the precision and sharp delivery of the lyrics is the prize here. While I think of Jimmy Cliff’s “King of Kings”, the opening sample lays the mindset as it hears from street level graffiti kings to those preparing for Jesus and Mohammed. Out the gates, Mecca spits “Make your idols your rivals, challenge ‘em for my first title/ I enter the ring prepared for battle/ I triumph with my science, bring your Bibles and your rifles”. Afterwards, mecca states a sweet flip Cube’s classic “Steady Mobbin’” prelude into a list of positivity with “Rodney King, Martin Luther King, and all the kings in Africa”. That’s powerful. Very impressive. Mecca kills it with wordplay and vengeance intertwined with one phrase, “we’re back for back pay and payback”. God damn. Flipping words in the second verse continues the mind massage:

 

What if some of these MCs were government agents

Their record labels program us through entertainment

The CEO was the CIA and the A&R (A n R) was the N.R.A

Give them guns so they can flash ‘em on their ads in print

Make it rain but gotta bring it back to US Mint

On the back of the album you see the FBI logo

Against piracy because they working for the Po-Po”

 

The title of that joint does set the tone for the peppered Jamaican/Rocksteady/Reggae references and musicality which will follow; which I appreciate deeply. Never mind having Jamaican born Canibus on the penultimate joint.

Next up is “One Man Gang”. Rock Mecca touts “OMG – One Man Gang – Oh My God – On My Grind”. A dope chop with choral vocals and hi-hats while Mecca reflects upon fighting his entire life. Mecca consistently punches lyrical allusions to the concept of a fighter throughout Ironworld. ‘Life is a constant struggle’ is a salient theme with the many wrestling bars and Mike Tyson ‘90s quotes plus check the song titles: “Survivor Series”, “One Man Gang”, “Stone Cold”, “Gladiator Schools”, “Prizefights” and “Coliseum”, which nods to not only George ‘The Animal Steele’ or the line “Haile Selassie meets Freddie Blassie” (“Stanley Cups”). The end of “One Man Gang” also uses the glorious The Education of Sonny Carsonclip: “sucka think he good. sucka think he can whoop me. I know he can’t whoop me… hey boy (his) whole style chump”. So good. 

 

The third track, “W.A.S.C. (Rebel Anthem)”, belies my description of Rock Mecca’s laid back approach. It’s no coincidence he references Willie D and Bushwick Bill in the first verse. This is an explosive track; exhilarating energy bursting from the speakers. Mecca matches the energy of the first GB album here. Triumphant horns blare while scratches build the excitement which is exponentially amplified when accompanied by the track’s samples. Joseph Simmons’ iconic “Run, Run…” and Chuck D’s “the rebel, the rebel”, and Busta’s emphatic “Powerful impact – BOOM! from the cannon” comprise the hook. The third verse even has Rock Mecca borrow from Uncle L’s “Mama Said Knock You Out”. Clearly made for older heads that will appreciate (and get pumped) from these classics. Rock’s words invigorate. 

 

After some words from Iron Mike, sultry saxophone and strings are placed over rough drums for “Stone Cold”. This loop is dope. The main hook is a quote slowed the f down, “in the belly of the beast – will I survive to tell the tale.” Again some Rocksteady nods with “Tougher than Tough” (Derrick Morgan) and “Rough Rider” (Prince Buster) are embedded in his lyrics. This track is a chilling perspective, with tone set by Tyson’s callous evaluation, on how to maintain. Mecca ends with:

 

“This awkward, odd beautiful struggle/ On my job like a single mom tryna juggle

Walking on thin ice while situations get thick/ Play the corners if you wanna

Can’t afford another abysmal dismal year/ Playing the rear

Stay all cried out without ever shedding a tear / Live on a prayer”

 

Mecca finally gets to uses hi lyrics in story mode for a dark, unforgiving world, “Tunnel Visions”. Maybe the title is an allusion to dudes leaving NYC after the clubs, hitting the Tunnels to go back home; while doubling as a metaphor for the myopic vision of what fame offers discarding the outer reality. The harsh visual proposed by Mecca illuminates:

 

“Before the sun rises / Before the one night stands, the after-parties

Before the flyers litter the floor / Before the bottles on chill

Become glass shards and liquor spilled / Before breathalyzers, broken rubbers, discarded pills

Before the velvet rope turns to yellow tape / A few hours before the drunk girl awakes to holler rape

Before he pops the trunk, stumbling drunk / Parking lots become a Western

And groupies head to the Westin”

 

Next, “Gladiator Schools” takes its opportunity to give some knowledge from someone who has seen the struggle. Mecca implores to any lost in the system, while they are in the “school of hard knocks, take rocks and make jewels – show and prove even if you born to lose … in the gladiator schools”. Never accepting excuses, Rock imparts that supposed victims don’t let their negative circumstances define a negative life. Born into a shitty life doesn’t mean you have live a shitty existence. “Gladiator Schools”, in fact, is the single of Ironworld (powered by a dope Kool Keith rally cry for the hook), its cover shows a pair of black hands extended through prison bars reading a book, a stunning image. There are not many situations that make you start from the bottom more severely than coming out of jail; marred with a record and rebuilding after being dehumanized. A felon’s existence, having been forged to react with the basest of human instincts, does not translate into ‘normal’ society. But, it is a reality for many. 

 

Here, Roc Marc does his thing. Bomb as always. Mecca spits deadly with lyrical maneuvering dope shit, getting deep in the mental. Some life advice with a cool hook about hard times. Production is layered and smoky anchored by a trumpet line that goes beyond 4 bars; weaving in and out. We hear punching snares and a repeating swelling of lower horns and some other high pitched noises in there. Cool sample at the end to talk of pursuits.

 

“Prizefights” is another banger, with somber flutes contrasted by boom-bap snares and other instruments. Mecca’s flow speeds up dropping many jewels while Ratigan spits fire dancehall toasting for the hook. Sirens and screeching sneakers are woven in the music bed as we exit the track with an APB call. The somber track ends with a downer.

 

“Coliseums” returns to that slow delivery, almost chopped and screwed, lol. Nah, but it is a slower BPM - I feel - than the lyrical fury deserves. A minor note. The horns are killer. A spazzing drum track builds tension as it pulsates under the slower instruments. It opens with a verse from the Queens legend, Tragedy Khadafi; a dope track that will having you thinking while energizing you. I mean, I am reviewing this sober. No doubt that as slow as this beat is, as is the later track, “Killa”, the faxed organ (or melodica) riding low and is dope as fuck when you’re lit. The vibes and reverb and spacey tones panning, the sound is, well, killer. In between is Ron G “Stanley Cups”. I like the chosen music elements; sick long over-lapping guitars and horns.

 

Rock carries this album practically solo, the first half is all him with Ironworld on his solitary back. He then laces side B with guest appearances; but practically one per track; highlighting the tracks guest spot with exactly delivery. And actually, one appearance is that Ratigan joint, who is solely on the reggae hook and one is DJ Ron G. This aids in allowing the listener to embrace the quality of guests; Roc Marc, Tragedy, and Canibus; and Kool Keith with Vast Aire. Guests only occupy a verse on 4/12 tracks. That’s bold these days where every track is jammed with other MCs. Again “Killa” boasts Vast Aire (Cannibal Ox), Kool Keith, and Mach Hommy. It utilizes that Celph Titled (well, Buckwild) sample of Peter Tosh decrying the “Bumbaklatts” and “the fuckery out there” invading radio speakers with knowledge and rebellion instead of “darling, I bloodclot love you” and “shaking their booty”. Definitely for smokers; the wandering guitar lines while the drums are plodding among lots of echo and reverb. Fun as hell.

 

Ironworld is a captivating release. Rock Mecca and Polumbo have some slower beats and some upper-tempo ones, not simply relying on boom-bap aesthetics. But the maturity and perspective of the lyrics are solidified as wiser. Rock Mecca came hard for his second full length. Mecca approaches his audience as a hardened warrior ready to fight some more. And willing to persevere until the bell rings. 

An Ironwold Redux?

Could "Ironworld 2" already be on the way?

Not quite, but Rock Mecca has announced that an EP is coming soon, containing tracks from what were dubbed "The Iron Sessions". 

The EP, currently holding six to eight tracks, includes several remixes to "Ironworld" tracks and some tracks that were left off the official record, due to not fitting the overall theme or due to time constraints.

The first single off the EP is a heater featuring none other than West Coast legend Ras Kass and Flipmode Squad Empress Rah Digga while another track is a remix from Rock's DJ Evil Dee (of the Beatminerz) produced loosie "W.A.R.Lord". 

More news and featured guests will be revealed once more info become available.

Rock Mecca's Interview with Urban Vault (UK)

There hasn’t been an album to make a definitive statement for NYC underground Hip Hop since ‘The Cold Vein’. How do you feel ‘Ironworld’ updates and reshapes that statement and mind state?

I just think the guy going out for a walk during the brutal winter with a head full of stress hasn’t had a soundtrack made for him in a long time. I think we have a lot of strip club anthems in rap but there’s no music for those who bundle up and face the city head-on. That’s why I call the songs on Ironworld “street anthems for the winter soldiers…” I think albums like Infamous, War Report or even a Cold Vein really detail the outside environment while I take it internally. My album is more about the toll it takes on you, almost a PTSD. New York is gentrified so a lot of the battles have been taken inside, underground or internally. If you’re looking for the gritty scenery in NYC you probably won’t see it. That’s why I don’t dwell too much on the city on this album. The natural progression for this type of Hip-Hop is to show how years of this type of struggle affects you. I think a lot of the underground emcees you hear nowadays, they don’t pass the smell test. They’re all hard kicks and snares and raspy voices talking tough but there’s nothing there. You see right through it. There are guys like KA, however, that show the natural progression of these New York Stories and it resonates. Hopefully, Ironworld adds to that.

How did you get such a dream team of guests? What was the genesis for this lineup?

I approached this album almost like a movie. Some say I have an A&R’s ear; I know who’ll sound good on what track. I wanted the emcees that featured to be street emcees but a little more left field, more cinematic. A few of the rappers have come through the same studio where I record, like Tragedy, Kool Keith, and Roc Marciano, so they became part of the conversation. The rest we sought them out. You mentioned the Cold Vein. I was listening to that album heavy while recording so I reached out to Cannibal Ox. Originally both Vast Aire and Vordul Mega were supposed to be on “Killa”, but something happened and Vordul couldn’t make it. That’s when we got at Mach Hommy. I look at recording music like a jazz artist would. You need a trumpet player so you get the best, whether he’s old school, new school, relevant or hasn’t worked in a while. We’re all session players. All that matters is the final product.

What do you think the old school can learn from the new school and vice versa?

The earth goes around the sun so sometimes you’re in the dark while someone else is in the light and vice versa. In other words, you can always learn from someone while you teach someone else. The new school can definitely teach the old guys about technology and social media. I think a lot of old school rappers aren’t seizing control of their legacy because they don’t know how to use the Internet effectively. A lot of these rappers are sitting on tons of material but are waiting for someone to sign them to release it rather than learning how to monetize and build an online fan base. The old guys can teach the youth about the business. It’s crazy how artists are falling for the same money pitfalls over and over. As far as the actual music is concerned, I actually like for it to be organic, everyone should be free to speak on their life as they see it. The old school shouldn’t teach the new school how to rap. Let it come from within. Just be responsible with what you spread.

What’s your favorite verse in Hip Hop history and why?

My favorite rap verse of all time is probably 2Pac’s last verse on ‘Me Against The World’. It’s such a motivational speech. He basically wrote a survival blueprint to follow. Every line of that verse is a code of conduct, a rule. It makes you pick your chin up and carry forward through tough times. Rap needs more wisdom like that. That album is definitely one of those that spawned Ironworld …That ‘Me Against The World’, ‘One Man Gang’ mentality…

What’s the meaning behind the name of your album?

‘Ironworld’ is another way of saying cold world but also adding in the entrapment of it all. The claustrophobia of not being able to evolve past your circumstance. Not only is the world cold and hard like iron, it closes in on you if you don’t fight it. If you look at the cover of the album, you’re climbing a fence and when you turn the cover, the guy’s running away. It’s like a steel cage match in wrestling. I live in a world of constant combat, constant competition. It’s the recurring theme of the album…Combat… and the album is that cage.

Thank you for your time and may you carry on making dope, fresh music…

"Ironworld" Now available on Soulspazm Records

Rock Mecca's anticipated album "Ironword" is now available on iTunes, Bandcamp and Amazon. The album is also available on Spotify for streaming. Ironworld debuted on the front page of iTunes, a rare feat for an underground indie release and has been getting great feedback from critics and fans alike.

The album features several heavyweights, including Kool Keith, Roc Marciano, Tragedy Khadafi and Canibus, as well as Mach Hommy, Vast Aire of Cannibal Ox, Ratigan and the legendary DJ Ron G. 

The first single "Gladiator Schools" featuring Roc Marciano, has made been heating up the streets as well as several tracks that had leaked in the underground. 

Make sure to check out "Ironworld" wherever albums are purchased and streamed. 

Pirate Radio Star now available on Soulspazm Records

Rock Mecca's debut album "Pirate Radio Star", originally released in 2012 under Rebel Vein Entertainment, is now available on Soulspazm Records.  Soulspazm is re-releasing the underground LP to whet the public's appetite in anticipation of Rock's sophomore release "Ironworld". 

Six years have passed between Rock Mecca's freshman and sophomore releases and a lot of the new fans getting hearing the Ironworld buzz have admittedly never heard the Queen's emcee's debut.

"Pirate Radio Star" is now available on iTunes, Amazon and can streamed on Spotify.