Under low light a modest silhouette gyrates like an old 60’s rock star. I was lucky enough to be invited to Backside‘s instore event at their Echo Park location.
Space had been cleared in the shop as if they were trying to create a dance floor. Rob Roy was their guest.When I arrive heavy distortion is filling the air, guitars are squealing, and there is a double bass echoing off the walls all this and apparently that is just the outro to one of his songs.
Upon first sight you might think he is a bit over dressed, after all we are in an establishment that sells casual clothes. The audience is casual, the scene is casual, but Rob Roy is any thing but. He is suited like a Men In Black, which is more that I can say for most rappers. His performance isn’t the lackadaisical stage jaunt that I was expecting… Rob Roy is performing his as off. Right after the heavy metal he goes into “Axela”, its sultry and slow. The drums are simple and the melody is carried by a chorus line of oohs and aahs. Over the D’Angelo-esque bass line, he singing in falsetto. He’s seducing the audience, not impressing them with word play, he’s drawing them closer. For someone labeled rapper he isn’t showing any of the symptoms,not battering us with lyrics, not vomiting out indiscernible syllables.
Not that he can’t rap,he can, and he proves it. Mr. Roy serves up staccato flavored bars, with metaphoric icing whipped into the center. Its definitely impressive but not at all what you might be used to. He’s not just vamping over hooks either he’s actually hitting notes. In velvet rope he digs into the beat and harmonizes on the chorus. He raps but its not a rap song, not a typical one by any means. He’s making me question everything I know about music. If this is rap, and it is this good, this musical, then what is that I am hearing on the radio? The two can’t possibly be the same.
Where in the spectrum of music do you feel you fit now? What is the void in music that you fill?
I stand in opposition to anti-intellectualization.
Why not just take the easy way out and make some more conventional sounding music?
There’s enough people doing that. I’m interested in deforming and provoking, not pacifying.
If budget were not a concern, how many pieces would you have in your back up band, which would they be?
A dj, 6 back-up singers, a drummer, and perhaps a bass player.