Collaborative albums are child’s play to producer DJ Muggs, especially when it comes to creating soundscapes for the yesteryears of New York City boom bap. To that end, he’s teamed up with emcee Mooch for “Roc Star”. Mooch himself is a member of the Rochester-based hip-hop collective known as Da Cloth and has several albums under his belt. With Muggs, he paints his depiction of his the urban landscape.

Starting off with the title track, it’s readily apparent that Mooch’s voice, rhyme schemes, and flow are a combination of Westside Gunn (minus the non-sequiturs and ad-libs), Conway the Machine, and Benny the Butcher, respectively. Muggs’ production contains guitar samples to coincide with the title. For “Soul Screaming”, Muggs use a more relaxed, piano-driven sample as Mooch raps customary coke rhymes with details reminiscent of the aforementioned Griselda emcees. Dark piano keys define “Uncut Hope” as Mooch compares his raps to his product. The album’s lead single, “Trumpets”, has a low-key menace with Mooch making use of alternating lo-fi vocals as he proclaims “I’m from the Roc, but nothin’ like Jigga, nigga”:



“Belly” begins the album’s middle section, with a looped jazz sample and matching vocals juxtaposed with Mooch giving a loose account of his daily criminal exploits. Muggs takes a clear boom-bap approach on “Mooch Moses”, as Mooch engages in a narrative which takes a hands-on approach to the dope business. There’s a bright-lights-big-city vibe on “It Ain’t Ready” with its atmospheric, victorious sound. Fellow Rochester emcee Rigz lends his vocals on the soulful “Walk Yours” before it transitions into “My Shit’s Beautiful”, which is built from a rock sample with little done to it beyond a loop and loose chopping.

On “Mav x Mooch x Times”, the lyrical monotony is broken with the arrival of both Times Change & M.A.V. over a vintage soul sample with quite the thump. The penultimate track “Mazda” has production reminding me RZA’s circa the mid-90s when he did the Wu-Tang solo albums, while the closing track “Assets & Liabilities” is marked by its lack of drums and melancholic strings. “Roc Star” scores mostly because of the production courtesy of DJ Muggs. The drumless track could’ve been left off, but the more solid productions were varied with interest. But lyrically, it would score higher if it wasn’t so glaringly derivative.


DJ Muggs x Mooch :: Roc Star
5.5Overall Score