Pop & Hiss Premiere: J. Rocc's 'Chasing the Sun'
You don't need six degrees to draw the connections between J. Rocc and your favorite DJ. He co-founded the Beat Junkies in 1992 (with Melo and Rhettmatic), a crew that rapidly became the premier DJ outfit in Los Angeles.
Along with Babu, he laced cuts on the seminal Rawkus Records compilation "Soundbombing." He's hosted programs on Power 106 and was/is a close consort with Dilla and Madlib.
In fact, it was J. who reportedly first passed Madlib an unreleased Dilla beat tape, a move that sparked the pair's "Champion Sound" collaboration. He's an influence on turnbtablists from L.A. to Osaka, and routinely booked for gigs everywhere in between.
Watching Rocc DJ is like taking a trip to the Magic Castle. His tricks can be explained in layman's turns -- you can know which knobs he's twisting and which records he's spinning, but his sleight of hand and seamless transitions are the result of pure instinct, divine gifts and countless practice. He might be the only DJ in Los Angeles whom one could declare "the best," and few would argue otherwise (and right now, for my money's worth, it's J. or Gaslamp Killer).
But despite his two decades-deep career and thousands of mixes, he's never released a full-length of his own original material. The Stones Throw-released "Some Cold Rock Stuff" remedies that defiency with 42 minutes of dirty and dusty psych and funk loops that alternately recall mid-'90s trip-hop and his close confederate Madlib. Indeed, the close friendship of the pair has paid obvious artistic dividends that extend far beyond style and record collections.
Rocc understands his labelmates' knack for pacing and creating a mood. Though fans expecting boom-bap slaps might be thrown for a (dirty) loop -- this is a deceptively complex record filled with layer after layer of samples and subtle sonic shifts. See "Chasing the Sun," the song Pop & Hiss is premiering today.
Opening with gothic choirs and glitchy drums, the track swells slowly, adding gritty, harder percussion and piano lines that recall DJ Shadow's "Building Steam With a Grain of Salt." A vocal sample from parts unknown starts cooing about "late night" and "meeting of the sun" (or at least that's what it sounds like). Then at 3:30, a voice cries "chasing the sun," and everything blasts into a corruscating coda that aims to channel the feeling of heading toward the light.
If that sounds overly complicated, it's because words will always fall flat, compared to his alchemical blends. Adding onto to an already enviable legacy, Rocc has ensured that he not only is one of your favorite DJ's favorite DJs, but he's probably one of their favorite producers too.
Download: (Pop & Hiss Premiere)
MP3: J. Rocc -- "Chasing the Sun"
-- Jeff Weiss
Photo: J. Rocc; Credit: B+