DC’s own Sa-Roc is busy in the studio readying the follow-up to to her acclaimed Rhymesayers’ debut, The Sharecropper’s Daughter. Having semi-recently wrapped her 17-date Talk To Me Nice summer tour, with supporting act Rah Digga, the rapper is reader for what’s next. Caught up with the D.C. native for an in depth on what’s to come. Dive into our Sa-Roc interview…
Parlé Mag: Growing up in the “Chocolate City,” talk to me about how the city and the culture inspired your rise in music?
Sa-Roc: DC is a very culturally diverse city, so there were a lot of artistic influences to pull from. Both Junkyard Band (pioneer Go-Go band) and Bad Brains (pioneer Black Punk band) got their start in Southeast. So it’s fitting that Go-Go and Rock were huge influences. I got into Hip-Hop as a teen, and my musical taste expanded, but remained very eclectic. I loved Rage Against the Machine, Billie Holliday, OutKast, Wu-Tang, Bjork, Nirvana, The Roots, Jimi Hendrix, Steel Pulse… any music that made me think and feel deeply, I loved.
Parlé Mag: What particular string of events initially led to your current signing to / with Rhymesayers Entertainment?
Sa-Roc: Someone who works at the label happens to be not only a Hip Hop head, but also somewhat of a historian. He knows so much about the culture and is constantly discovering new music. Well he found my music online, and used to play it in the office. One of the execs heard it and I got invited to perform at their annual festival Soundset. We met and began discussions on doing a project together. We released an EP called Metamorpheus, and then I signed with them in 2016.
Parlé Mag: Let’s talk about your latest single, “Talk To Me Nice.”
Sa-Roc: My producer, Sol Messiah, made the beat, and as soon as I heard it I was drawn to it; it’s simple, yet almost an ominous power. It felt very true to that classic Hip-Hop sound. I finished the rhyme pretty quickly because I knew I could do something dope with it.
Parlé Mag: How would you say “Talk To Me Nice” switches things up, as compared to your previous singles?
Sa-Roc: The song is pretty on par with previous work in terms of the way I approach elevated lyricism and wordplay. But I would say I pared down my usual word count to deliver sharp and precise bars. It’s definitely an ode to the culture we know and love.
Parlé Mag: What were some of the factors that inspired you get into Hip-Hop as an artist.
Sa-Roc: I’ve always been a writer (poetry, short stories), but I never thought I’d be writing professionally. I was a biology major in college. I’d always had dreams of a career in the performing arts; from acting to Alternative Rock, but I’d never explored Hip-Hop as an option. I ended up meeting my now DJ / producer, Sol Messiah, in Atlanta, and being blown away by his music. He was working with some dope Atlanta artists at the time, and also doing work with dead prez. I would always listen to his beats, singing melodies to them, until one day I worked up the nerve to ask him if I could record one of my poems over his beat. Mind you, I’d never written or recorded a rap before. Sol heard the potential and encouraged me to write something. We ended up using those first tracks to create my first EP, Astral Chronicles, and the rest is history and future.
Parlé Mag: Switching gears here, what exactly do you want people to get from your music?
Sa-Roc: Bars! LOL, while this is true, my artistic intention goes a little deeper than that. As a Black woman, it’s important for me to share the historical context of my artistry through my music, so that I pay homage to my community and those who helped shape me into who I am. My goal is to not only use my music to amplify personal and social issues that matter, but to encourage people to face their own challenges with courage and honesty. That’s how we grow. I want people to feel empowered from the music. To understand the importance of our place in the world. As someone who uses my art as a way of healing myself, it’s important to share what I’ve learned, and continue to learn, through the music.
Parlé Mag: If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Sa-Roc: Nina Simone. She was so passionate about Black people and our shared experience, as am I. Whenever she sings, her sound jolts you awake, stirs something deep inside your soul, and is really timeless. That’s the way I’d like my music to be remembered and felt. If she were still alive, I think we could’ve created something beautiful together.
Parlé Mag: What do you feel has and will continue to be the key to your longevity?
Sa-Roc: I would definitely say persistence. Continuously putting out the highest quality work. Also, sometimes we get into the habit of stopping ourselves from putting out art because we don’t have the best cameras or the highest budget, and we end up stifling our growth that way. Instead, I encourage artists to push forward and commit to the work until they can acquire those resources. Which will eventually happen with that dedication.
Parlé Mag: To date, what has been your biggest career moment?
Sa-Roc: Some might say it’s when I performed in The Cypher at the BET Hip Hop awards, but for me, it’s probably when Black Thought from The Roots, pulled me on stage at A3C in Atlanta to rhyme upon meeting me for the first time. Since then, I’ve performed with The Roots quite a few times and got a feature with Black Thought on my album; and that was life changing for me.
Parlé Mag: What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Sa-Roc: Stay focused. Let the art guide you, not the potential fame or money. If your dedication to your craft is authentic, the abundance will flow to you. Find and develop your POV and voice as you create and resist letting anyone else define that for you.
Parlé Mag: And, for someone who has yet to experience you LIVE, what would you tell that person can actually be expected?
Sa-Roc: Energy!!! I’m not one of those “stand in one place with a mic” rappers. I’m fully immersed in the experience when I perform. I’m interacting with the audience, we’re doing call and response, I’m speaking from the heart… it’s a really fun and emotionally powerful experience. And I don’t rap over my vocal track, lol!
Parlé Mag: What’s next for Sa-Roc?
Sa-Roc: I’m working on my next album right now, so that’s the main focus. I’m excited for the new energy. I’ve experienced so much in the last few years and it’s definitely influenced my pen. So I’m ready for the world to hear what we’ve been working on.
Parlé Mag: Any “parting” words for our readers?
Sa-Roc: Support dope female rappers! We can’t just talk negatively about the state of Hip-Hop and not support those who are working hard to uphold the culture. So I encourage people to do the work to seek out those emcees that supply what the game is missing and SUPPORT them. That is all.
Image Credit: Beth Saravo & Idris Abdullah
Readers May Also Like: