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The best kept secret in music



After heating things up over the years for Washington DC Head-Roc is now back with his second solo outing, the politically minded ‘Negrophobia.’ Demanding your attention with his intelligent and enlightening rhymes Head-Roc brings some genuine knowledge on tracks like the imperialism-baiting ‘Chris Columbus’ before bringing a smoky touch to proceedings with the bass-driven, yet still knowledgeable, ‘Bob Marley.’

Showing a wisdom that extends beyond the borders of the U.S. Head-Roc also brings the strong ‘Free Palestine’ while ‘Middle Passage’ addresses the slave trade with the use of documentary style audio alongside Head-Roc’s cleverly personalized rhymes. With other highlights like ‘Speak To Us,’ ‘Black Babies’ and ‘Tarzan’ Head-Roc has successfully bucked the trend for ignorant Hip-Hop and delivered some truly cerebral music for anyone fed up of hearing the same empty ‘gangsta’ platitudes. While the production remains on point throughout the additional co-signing of this album by A Tribe Called Quest’s Jarobi, who helped with the engineering, is sure to get yet more heads checking for this refreshingly intelligent release. Do the knowledge and get ‘Negrophobia’ before it gets you.
- www.grind-mode.com

"ON POINT "NEGROPHOBIA!" by Sensimellia ‘Soul Rebel’ Gardner"

In the year since Washington, DC’s hardest working MC, Head-Roc, dropped his solo debut project, The Return of Black Broadway, the “Broadway” got whiter. U Street’s most prominent apartment building, The Ellington, is way out of the financial league of the city’s majority blacks who are reeling from a reported 10-14 percent unemployment rate. A tanning salon now sits on the once famed black corridor and the organized new residents have successfully banned live hip-hop performance from all clubs in the neighborhood. All that’s left of the Black Broadway are a hodge-podge of informational walking tour street signs saying that it used to be there. What’s behind all of this? According to Head-Roc, it’s Negrophobia and if you were born anytime after the 15th century, then you’ve got it!

Twelve tracks and to the point, Head-Roc’s sophomore project was released on Juneteenth at perhaps the least visited place in Washington DC, the African-American Civil War Memorial Museum, smack dab in the middle of the Black Broadway.

The beats are minimalist—mostly bass, drums and a tickle of keys—providing just enough bop to shelter the listener from a down pour of lyrics decrying key elements in the establishment of Negrophobia. Columbus’ murderous imperial expedition and the tragedy of trans-Atlantic slavery; the resulting decimation of the black family, and creation of a greed-filled, racist police society; its replication throughout the rest of the world and its concentration in a DC which needs to be made “free”—all form the lyrical core of the disk.

With such heavy subject matter it’s almost surprising the album remains something you can rock to, but producers DJ Eurok on the funky movie-track sounding “Tarzan” (with guest vocals by Noyeek the Grizzly Bear) and DC’s own R&B hottie K’alyn and Dwayne Lee (of 3LG) on “Speak to Us” ensure that Head-Roc’s revolution will be at the party. Lee showing off his blazin’ guitar rifts on “Bernard Hopkins” further cements the bridge Head-Roc’s punk youth followers used to cross over into the world of DC hip-hop. On “Speak to Us” Lee’s fingers are so sweet you might miss Head-Roc’s stinging lyrics:

…can you believe that?
we living in a age where working at McDonald’s
is an advertised career path
the fuk is up with that?
commercials showing niggas joyous as a mufuh
stuffing fast food bags…
demonstration of black and white cooperation
according to some corporations…

when we wanted integration, they gave us segregation
which they couldn’t get away with, so in frustration
they changed the game say we were insane
to blame the grip of past reigns for our present days strains…

the civil rights amendments is really just a figment
of that mission of guilt by the righteously indignant…

Tight lyrics

The smooth bounce of “Chris Columbus” explains that the album came about “…all because [Head-Roc] took up a book and looked and was shook by the shit these crooks done took.” The almost dirge-ish keys leading the marching band drumming behind “Middle Passage” is a tear-jerker for anyone who can for a moment join this African on a journey into the unknown terror of the experience through song; interrupted by a narrative clip, which at over a minute long takes away from the cadence and climax of the succeeding verse. If you need a let up from the emotion of the black experience in the Americas, skip “Black Babies”:

“…My black people ain’t moved since Martin died…
When he was assassinated by the Central ‘I’
A black Agency didn’t mobilize, except to vandalize…

Brothers killing brothers for the sake of homicide
Committing ‘suicide’ –when it should be homicide…

We need to get the black family unified…

To put a ball through a hoop they pay a black man a million dollars
‘Cause they’d rather see that than to witness a million scholars…”

There are surprises on this album for everyone living in or outside the District. “Bob Marley Lives in Amsterdam” throws rocks at the commercialization and watering down of Marley’s image from Pan-Africanist to a weed-smoking icon used to advertise tools which today contribute to the destruction of Africans universally. “Free Palestine” (featuring Democracy Now!’s Amy Goodman) is ably supported by a fabulous tremor of bass, whispers and chants, followed by the untitled instrumental track #6 with a clever combination of beats, oud and the Arabesque tabla drum.

In just over 40 minutes Negrophobia, engineered by Head-Roc and his manager Jarobi White (of A Tribe Called Quest), manages to impart history lesson, cop-watch tactics (courtesy of The Funkinest Journalist, Jared Ball of FreeMixRadio and Organized C.O.U.P.), and re-establishes hip-hop as the music to which we can once again party for our right to fight a most debilitating component in the American nightmare: Negrophobia.

Ten years after Public Enemy’s “Fear of a Black Planet”, the arrival of “Negrophobia” is refreshing, hot, timely and on point—so, go ge - Left Turn Magazine

"City Lights June 17-23, 2005"

Politically astute hiphop can sometimes go down like a dose of childhood medicine: No matter how much sweet shit you chase it with, the bitter taste it leaves in your mouth is inescapable. You gotta push through the pain and swallow it if you are ever going to feel better, but you damn sure don’t have to like it. Lucky for us, not all smart hiphop must be choked down while pinching your nose. Head-Roc’s new disc, Negrophobia, follows in the tradition of the best political records: It sounds like an album that incorporates interesting ideas rather than a lecture series that just happens to be packaged in a jewel box. The D.C. native has gotten the hang of a trick that eludes many—putting something important in your ear without putting you to sleep. On his sophomore solo album, the former 3LG and Infinite Loop member continues the political work he began on last year’s The Return of Black Broadway, which received the 2004 Wammie for the best rap/hiphop album. Whether it’s “Middle Passage,” a wrenching re-creation of a slave-ship voyage, aided by vocals from Jean-Bertrand Aristide, or “They Don’t Speak to Us,” a funny look at the sad fact that many black folks still only interact with whites if they’re calling them “boss” or “officer,” the record’s radical, racially charged material is more grape-flavored Benadryl than acrid Tussin: that rare thing that is not only good, but good for you, too. Head-Roc performs with Noyeek the Grizzly Bear, DJ Eurok, and Jarobi, along with Devine Nature and Asheru’s Black Lincolns at 9:30 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $10. (202) 397-7328. (Sarah Godfrey) - The Washington City Paper

"Head-Roc Interview"

Washington D.C: The centre of a global political superpower for some, and the belly of the all-encompassing imperialist beast to others. Such disparate opinions are echoed in the significant wealth gap shown in the city’s population: large numbers of poor live under the nose of the White stoned houses that seat some of the richest and most influential people in the world. Such circumstances as this can only provide a melting pot of inspiration for artistic folk inhabiting the area. Head Roc is one of such folk, who after releasing his critically acclaimed Return of Black Broadway LP, he has now dropped Negrophobia – a poignantly political and head nodding set. Add the fact that Heady is managed by Jarobi from A Tribe Called Quest fame, and I had to catch up with this talented D.C representative to say whuttup…

What’s the Washington D.C hiphop scene like?

The DC Hip-Hop is and has been bubbling for quite a few years now. There is a tremendous amount of talent in no small part due to long-time vets honing skills both, artistic and business, for something like ten years now. More and more cats are putting out wax, which brings attention to the scene as a whole. But don’t sleep, DC artists been out overseas and across the U.S. Groups like Unspoken Heard and Opus Akoben who are well known in France have been visiting across the pond for more than a few years now. Nationally, Storm the Unpredictable and the Poemcees been doing it for years as well. Those are the longtime vets who I have to spread love to cause they all helped me out when it was my time to travel and spread love to the masses. Can’t forget my peoples Team Demolition, who as far as I can remember were the first cats I ever heard about to put out wax.

Do you feel living in the shadow of the White House has a significant effect on your music?

I don’t know for sure if the White House or Congress has had any more significant effect on my music, with me being from DC, than it has on any other region where hip-hop is prominent. Congress does its thing, which is totally separate from the DC native thing. Congress doesn’t care too much about DC because if they did, the city would be paved in gold. The school system wouldn’t be so dysfunctional because there would be adequate funding for modern facilities and ample supplies for students and so forth. Hell, this current President doesn’t even stay overnight in the White House so he can’t possibly know what’s going on in the city – wow what a leader huh? In general the white house/congress doesn’t give a shit about hip-hop except to condemn it and falsely blame it for the moral decay of the States. which, interestingly enough, is what they said about Blues, Jazz, Rock, and Soul. At the same time funny enough, the conservatives even recognize the power of Hip-Hop and use it as a means of perverted outreach to gain new constituents. It’s the slow response of the U.S. Progressive movement that has had a significant effect on my just my music, but many of the brave ones before me who try to deal with society and question the status quo in our music creations.

“…Congress doesn’t care too much about DC because if they did, the city would be paved in gold…”

You are managed by Jarobi from A Tribe Called Quest, how did that come about, and how has it helped you?

Jarobi is one of my best friends has offered me all that he knows about he idiosyncrasies of dealing with the music industry. We met at the grocery store one day, I gave him a ride home as he was lugging some groceries and the rest is history. We never even talked about him and tribe for over a year though of course I knew who he was, and he knew me from my prominence on the DC Hip-Hop scene through my work with Infinite Loop and Three Levels of Genius. We just found that we had a mutual respect and admiration for music – period. Quite a wonderful way to build a friendship when you think about it. Something very pure and that. So we became really good friends and over the years no matter what was going on in our lives we supported each other whole heartedly. So when I went out on the solo effort and it came time to tour the west coast, Jarobi took the lead as our guide for my first ever tour. His vast tour experience made my carefree and successful and I cant wait to do it again and again. Did I mention I’m available for shows and tours it the U.K.? Shameless plug if you don’t mind! (Laughing)

“…[Jarobi and I] met at the grocery store one day, I gave him a ride home as he was lugging some groceries and the rest is history…”

What reception do you receive for your political material?

I receive an overwhelming response whenever I rock my material of social content. People are literally blown away! They come and tell me that I’ve changed their lives and attitudes on the state of the world today. The engage me in socio-political discussion after the show. I’ amazed at how intently folks listen to my lyrics at the show. I’ definitel - conducted by The Last Skeptic for UKHH.COM


Head-Roc - "NEGROPHOBIA!" (2005)

Head-Roc - The Return of Black Broadway (2004)

Radio CPR -Begin Live Transmission Compilation CD (2003 Dischord Records)

Head-Roc - A Prelude to: The Return of Black Broadway (2002)

Infinite Loop - First Contact (1999)

Three Levels of Genius - Live at State of the Union (1996)


Feeling a bit camera shy


For over the past ten years Head-Roc’s name has consistently been a function of what is widely regarded as the best that DC Hip-Hop has to offer! Dubbed “The Mayor” of the DC Hip-Hop scene, Head-Roc over the course of his career has come to embody the passions, hopes, and dreams of a wonderfully talented and blatantly overlooked DC metropolitan area Hip-Hop community. Head-Roc’s unparalleled ability to reach music lovers across a wide spectrum of tastes put him on par with longtime established national recording artist in both music creation and live performance.

Debuting on the scene in 1993, Head-Roc quickly established a dominating presence amongst his peers by participating in countless open mike nights and showcases the DC Metro region of that era. At a time when free styling was the single most effective way to prove your self as an MC, Head-Roc became one of the most revered, loved, and feared in the Nation’s Capitol. In 1994 Head-Roc became one of the founding members of the DC super group/collective Infinite Loop, undoubtedly DC’s native son Hip-Hop favorites once boasting a roll call of almost 20 members. As a member of Infinite Loop, Head-Roc was largely responsible for the groups rise to the top of DC’s Hip-Hop elite by coordinating Infinite Loop’s unquestioned artistic genius and live performance notoriety with its business goals and aspirations as a collective. In 1999, Head-Roc orchestrated Infinite Loop’s debut EP recording release “First Contact” officially cementing Infinite Loop as local legend heroes dedicated to delivering DC Hip-Hop to a national audience. One of Infinite Loop’s greatest achievements was being the headline act as part of an all DC Hip-Hop billed performance night at the world-renowned 9:30 club in their native Washington, DC – without being signed to a label or recieving any support from cooperate mainstream DC radio!

Along with being a member of Infinite Loop, Head-Roc also graced many hallowed stages as a part of without question one of the most heralded live bands in the DC Metropolitan Area: Three Levels of Genius (3LG). As a member of 3LG, Head-Roc’s music creation and performance education expanded beyond the margins of classic underground Hip-Hop. With a sound incorporating the perfect mix of Funk, Rock, Jazz, and Swing, 3LG’s music appealed to more than just Hip-Hop listeners. As member of 3LG, Head-Roc has graced stages alongside music legends ranging from The Roots and Run DMC, to Buckshot LeFonque, Bernie Worell (Parliament) and 2 Skinny J’s. Naturally appealing to music lovers across cultural preferences earned 3LG The Washington Area Music Association’s “Best Hip-Hop Group” award fours years in a row (’97–’00) and Head-Roc produced and performed one of three featured Emcees.

Last year Head-Roc released “The Return of Black Broadway” (the prophesized follow up to 2002’s ‘A Prelude to: The Return of Black Broadway’) to rave reviews eventually propelleling it to the #2 spot on both the Rapattack.com Top 30 and Rapnetworks.com Record Breakers charts (summer ’04). Head-Roc toured Europe and the U.S. West Coast being interviewed, appearing on radio stations, and delivering life changing performances in ’04 promoting “The Return of Black Broadway” which earned him the 2005 WAMA Hip-Hop Album of the Year honors. While The Head-Roc War Machine (Head-Roc feat. Noyeek The Grizzly Bear and Dj Eurok) wowed progressive audiences with high impact energetic performances making everyone ever to witness Head-Roc in concert BELIEVERS – setting the perfect stage on which to release Head-Roc’s sophomore solo effort “NEGROPHOBIA!”

Head-Roc’s “NEGROPHOBIA!”, released independently through www.head-roc.com, is an 11 song masterpiece of exquisite rhyme and rhythm that addresses attitudes of complacency towards people of color. In this current era where once again allied Western Nations wage and support war to establish democracy in foreign lands, Head-Roc, a Washington, D.C. native where citizens right to vote in Congress is denied, reminds us all of the ultimate social, economic, and political signature outcomes of the Imperialists agenda! Devoid of self the righteous preachy ness typically characteristic of an album of this nature, “NEGROPHOBIA!” is a classic must have for everyone fed up with cooperate influence in music creation today!