Curtis Roach is a real underdog.
I’ve not quite made up my mind yet.
What I know for sure is that when I first heard his track Anxietea. I got the same kind of goosebumps I got when I first listened to the likes of Proof or Big L. The second he hops in on the track, you get this instant reminiscence of early Kendrick Lamar or Chance the Rapper type of voice and flow, but not the same music. No. The music brings in a different sentiment. One that I really did not expect from a kid born in 1999.
I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a degree of bias in my statements though. Truth be told, I’m a bit of a Joe Budden when it comes to music nowadays. Especially hip-hop. To be brief, I feel like there’s a mad divide in music now that there wasn’t before – and it’s not only amongst the fans. I feel like the divide is between the artist and the music. Instrumentals now are, in my opinion, more synthetic and complex than ever. They challenge the “Rule of 3” and ultimately perfect it. However, whilst I stand in admiration of the talent and effort one needs to create and produce, sometimes it’s just too much. And that’s where cats like Roach come in. The beauty of it is that it brings us, and hopefully the younger generations, back to the roots of Hip-hop. It takes us back to when it was an artist, and instrumental, and bars. It’s that simple. The production is clean, well executed and quite frankly also simple – and that’s the beauty of it. Ntourage, the producer for the track Anxietea., really did a phenomenal job. But honestly, that’s not even the half of it for me.
Roach isn’t huge right now. But that isn’t really a factor. I think that, considering the saturation of the hip-hop industry today, where most newcomers are all about face-tats, Xanax, and unintelligible lyricism, there’s plenty room for a throwback artist. But it’s not really original per se. He has his own take on old-school rhythm and flow, but it’s not a style that’s never been done, which inherently isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Don’t fix what ain’t broken. On top of that, when you look at how funk, soul, jazz, and blues are coming back in many forms, you see how history repeats itself. Bruno Mars’ latest music has heavy James Brown influences. The Weeknd’s latest album and singles had almost eye-boggling Michael Jackson influences and inspirations. Roach is bringing back boom-bap, and he does it remarkably well.
One thing is for sure – Roach can most definitely appeal to most old heads.
You can see it in a range of ways. Either Curtis Roach is 18 years-young and 20 years after his time, or he’s ahead of the renaissance of old-school. Personally, I wanna think it’s the latter (tryna stay optimistic, it’s too early in the year to start being defeatist), and I really hope I’m right.
I listened to all the other stuff he has on Spotify; the live jams and various other singles, like SLYB, Extra Friez, and Blossom. It’s all good. Really. It’s ALL good. I’m banking on this guy to make it. I want him to and I think that in the grander scheme of things, it’s going to redirect hip-hop to the direction it originally had; that of displaying your roughness through elegance, channelling your plight into pride, and ultimately highlighting and hyping yourself based on the shit you do, not the shit you have.
Like most up and coming artists, his SoundCloud page is far more extensive than his Spotify one. As we speak, I’m working on listening to his Highly Caffeinated project on SoundCloud, released in late 2017. I say working, but it’s not really the case. It’s more like vacationing through it. It’s flowing. It just flows. It’s just like being in a little rowboat, on a calm river in a 3 o’clock sun, lying down with your eyes closed.
If I had one thing to tell him, I’d say:
Keep grinding young man, you’re the embodiment of the past coming to teach the future a lesson.
In the world we live in today, taking a lesson from the past would probably freshen up some minds and give us a better perspective on the direction we wanna go in.
You’re missing out if you’re catching z’s on the kid.
Cover image: Curtis Roach, Extra Friez Album Shoot 2017