Roc C.

All Questions Answered

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If there's something that Stones Throw Records isn't afraid of, it's trying new things. This is the label that houses the eccentric producer/MC/instrumentalist Madlib as well as the masked MF Doom, among others, and so the fact that Roc 'C' is now included on the roster shouldn't be surprising. But what's so different about Roc 'C' isn't a sped-up voice, strange characters, crazy lyrics, or chopped-up beats; it's that he's such a normal rapper. Roc chooses fairly standard hip-hop themes -- his own skill, the problems in his life, women -- and though his rhymes aren't sensational ("Burst your bubble 'til your mind feels puzzled"), there are enough interesting ones ("I ain't tripping on burning trees/Why don't you put some lotion on your ashy knees") that nothing gets too predictable. Roc has a similar delivery on many of the songs, but he doesn't sink too far into a pattern from which he's unable to escape. He changes his flow when he needs to, getting fast, using triplets, syncopating offbeats, keeping things from getting too comfortable and routine. Not that predictability is a particular concern for Roc 'C', thanks to the fantastic production work on All Questions Answered, especially by Oh No (who does ten tracks, including the excellent "R.O.C." and "Murda") and DJ Romes (whose two, "Dirty, Dirty" and "Let's Battle," are among the strongest on the record), who play around with organic-sounding guitars and strings with almost G-funk-like synths, giving the drums a strong presence without overdoing it. And the guest MCs that Roc brings onto the album are good, too, especially Bone Thugs' Bizzy Bone and metaphor king Chino XL, who delivers his fair share of good rhymes on "El Capitan" ("As a kid mom fed me venison and showed me Bambi," "skills fatter than what's left over from Latifah's liposuction"). These moments help make up for the songs that are less memorable (the rapper has a few too many songs about getting together with various, nameless women, all versions of which have been done way too many times before), and while All Questions Answered may not completely satisfy a voracious Stones Throw listener, it's also not going to leave any doubt that Roc 'C' definitely belongs on the label.

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