Spain’s Celebration of Golden Age Boom-Bap
Hailing from Spain, DJ Alex Rocks celebrates the golden era of boom bap hip-hop with his debut EP, Rise N Shine! With an aural identity that lands somewhere between a video game soundtrack and Poke & Tone, Rocks samples heavily from a collection that dwells primarily in jazz and soul.
Rise N Shine! allows DJ Alex Rocks to showcase not only his abilities in production, but also a virtuosic hand at scratching vinyl, an art that has slowly been fading from the limelight throughout the past two decades. The concise “Intro” is perhaps the greatest example of craft throughout the entire record — drum loop, vocal samples and syncopated scratches offer a sonic landscape that conjures images of cardboard and graffiti.
However, while the record’s sonic texture is characterized by the crackle and pop of vinyl, Rise N Shine! is a release for the SoundCloud generation, and a lack of thematic unity is the most notable outcome. This is commonplace in collections that find singularity in their production credits, divvying up the role of lyricist amongst a group of featured artists. DJ Alex Rocks’s debut is no exception. “Moonlight Creedence,” the only song that breaks from Rocks’s hip-hop roots to feature French singer Jessica Fitoussi, provides a moment of disparity that — while well executed — is not needed. Sleep Sinatra, Junclassic and Jack Jones, the three emcees that offer their voices to the album, function with relatively positive results in their respective features, but the verses find little unity (“All in Ya Mind” and “Ultimatum” are undoubtedly the greatest successes on this front). There is truly no doubt that these songs function best independently, the evenly-paced hooks and loop-heavy production an homage to an era past. It is symptoms like these that cement the album’s identity: a celebration rather than an innovation.