Zilla Rocca: Neo Noir

Zilla Rocca

When I emerged from my hibernation – don’t call it a comeback – one of the first people to welcome me back was Zilla Rocca, Philly’s noir-hop Mad Man.

I’ve gotten to know Zilla a bit over the years, so I feel bad that my inactivity on the site meant not continuing to spread the word about him and his crew. Consider this an attempt to rectify that.

Last year saw Zilla Rocca release Neo Noir, his first mixtape since 2008’s Bring Me the Head of Zilla Rocca, with appearances from his Wrecking Crew mates (Curly Castro and Has-Lo), doseone, PremRock, Elucid and Dewey Decibel.

Without trying to sound cliche, what strikes me here as I dig deeper into Neo Noir is Zilla Rocca’s maturity – a man eager to embrace his 30s and beyond. About 10 years ago, my wife and I bought our first house, despite the fact that I didn’t have the first clue what we were doing. But then one day you’re paying a mortgage, reading about interest rates, walking a dog and calling a Saturday of Netflix binge-watching a damn good night.

It’s great to see this development in Zilla, who is now engaged and in the process of house hunting. I caught up with him – over some quality bourbon –  when he made it out to Arizona with PremRock and Curly Castro for a pair of shows in November, and it wasn’t hard to get the sense that this is a guy who has found a comfortable balance, in his life and music (finding the right partner can do that).

But you don’t even have to be friends with him to see it. It’s all right there in his music. Listen to “2 Dollar Lunches” (featuring Has-Lo) to see where his head is at:

“I want to get the blood stains out with OxyClean /
I want to buy an old slot machine /
Sick of landlords, I want to own property.”

And then: “I save money, one day I’ll be outta debt /
And buy avocados instead of Alpha Bits.”

Another standout is “Never Tell Them You’re a Rapper,” featuring PremRock, a candid indictment of their rap reality. It’s funny because it’s true.

“Hate when people ask me, ‘What kind of music do you do?’ /
I say, ‘hip-hop’ /
They say, ‘Dude … no seriously, what kind of music do you do?'”

Pick up Neo Noir right here, and it looks like we have a 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers follow-up to look forward to in 2014.

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