Ask people about who reps Portland, Oregon and if they can come up with any answer, they're likely to start with Cool Nutz and Bosko. Mounting the launching pad built by these and other pioneers, local rapper Chazz Rokk is out to make a name for himself with his debut album "Rokk the Spot".
From a gangsta rap perspective, Chazz Rokk is on that 'hip-hop', which basically means he's more inclined to bragging and battling than talking about busting caps and hustling crack. For the time being, he's still some steps away from mastering the art. His stature and skills barely make him a Minor League player. But as they say, he shows promise. Every now and then he throws that special type of curve ball that will leave the opposing batter confused, making him able to walk away saying, "please don't approach me with that wackness / I don't coach MC's, so go home and practice."
Yet as lyrical homeruns are few and far in between on "Rokk the Spot", it's the enthusiasm displayed by Chazz Rokk that will have fans of the game cheer for him. With persistence he moves forward, "and all of y'all gon' get it," because he's been "on the sideline too long watchin' y'all tryin' to spit it." And so he thinks it's his turn to score points in whatever sport you want to equate rap with, from...
"So trick, know the name, C-h-a-double z, hoe
you totally off the point like Shaq shootin' free throws
Kids stop bitchin' with your wack statistics
if you can't cop a W, got no business bein' in it" ... to ...
"Odds against you, cause they know you're over the hill
and I'm a rookie comin' up that's insanely skilled
Like Mike Ty' I'm trained to kill cause I'm crazy ill
you ain't even on my level of playing field"
Fact is that in any sport, the milieu decides if a player is going to make it. The people in his corner, family, friends, managers, agents, but most importantly those that are with him on the field during the game. Throughout "Rock the Spot" Chazz Rokk is assisted by able producers and guest rappers. With "Ride or Roll", Kaz 1 lays down a heavy track reminiscent of Fredwreck Nassar. Deacon Da Villain ups the ante with "Drop the Mic" by infusing the track with a heavy dose of subcurrents of bass and horn-like effects. "Mic Control" by Magnetik gets pushed forward by incoming soundwaves peaking in a break that cuts up highly relevant quotes by Nas, Big L and Rakim. For "Deep Breath" Rhythmatic The Beat Addict weaves a dusty web of mystic melodies. He also brings the classic underground thump to tracks like "That Joint" and two remixes. A strange combination of West Coast piano and East Coast percussion is "Vibe Wit' Us" by Mr. Royce, fitting the East-meets-West duet between Chazz and Long Island representative SmOOth.
Sometimes reminiscent of the Soulquarian sound, still mostly keyboard-based, the majority of the production on "Rokk the Spot" is only a few notches below top notch status. For your money's worth, you'll get good, traditional hip-hop that can be enjoyed by in- and outsiders alike. In its own right 'traditional' is "Essence", where Eyesoulated Mindz use some sweet Oriental samples. Here you'd expect Chazz Rokk to refer his Laotian heritage, and he does, in a way, just not explicitly, but rather by equating "life's essence" with succeeding "in the struggle" - ultimately a universal message. Suddenly Chazz Rokk, who up until the preceeding "Deep Breath" (w/ Braille) seemed nothing more than a rather harmless young gun asking that we please take notice of him, shows maturity beyond his young voice:
"It's like the earth twisted and manifested a new destin'
Looked upon the sky and the moon had a new crescent
showin' me a sign, tellin' me it's my time
'Go for shine, young man, but don't get out of line'
On my own I walked lands as I stepped on
Fending for self, with my weapon gripped in my left palm
Time to do some soul-searchin', where am I headed?
Am I gonna do what I love or get stuck in a dead end?
Pondering a million things goin' through my mind
Frustrated, sometimes I can't even finish the rhyme
I look up and see the light at the end of the tunnel
but underneath my feet all I see is dirt and rubble
Size the situation, realize it's all in my makin'
I take my first step and realize I'm gonna make it"
As a rapper, Chazz Rokk s not yet "turnin' opinions and facts," he's merely claiming he is. His main problems are a one-dimensional flow that concentrates too much on the rhyming words and a limited range of vocal inflection. But for a freshman effort that's coming out on the independent tip, "Rokk the Spot" is noteworthy at least. And even though he's not yet Major League material, he definitely got the attitude down:
"Portland trash talker, call me Rasheed Wallace
I be trailblazing the pros, straight skipping college
cause I'm above and beyond and they just bein' honest
I'm guaranteed to deliver like I just made a promise
It's that chinky eyed kid with that smooth type shit
hit your block, bust shots, make your move right quick
with no gat, it's obvious, y'all don't know jack
stick it to anyone and twist back they pro bat cap"
Music Vibes: 7 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6 of 10
Originally posted: July 11, 2002