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For some, the rocky road to success is easy to navigate. Take Atlanta rapper Rocko for instance. After working for years writing, producing and developing major label aritsts, Rocko realized no one was going to take his advice as well as himself. Proving he knew exactly what the rap game needed, just a year after becoming an artist himself, Rocko secured a deal with Def Jam Records. Thanks to the overwhelming popularity of his Drumma Boi produced single, â€œUmma Do Me,â€ Rocko is now at the forefront of the new Southern movement in hip-hop where business acumen and consumer awareness reign supreme.
Raised with his two sisters in Atlanta, Rocko learned at a young age how to improve upon the not so perfect conditions around him. â€œI was back and forth between my mother and my grandmother for the majority of my life,â€ says the rapper born Rodney Hill. â€œMy father wasnâ€™t in the picture so I had to learn from a lot of older people. I saw a lot of things growing up and I decided that I didnâ€™t want to become a statistic. So I stayed focused.â€
After graduating from high school, Rocko started working for his cousin who owned and operated multiple businesses in and around Atlanta.
â€œI was doing all types of things,â€ says the Georgia MC today. â€œI was selling T-shirts, working at my cousinâ€™s transportation company. I was just trying to figure out what it was that I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do entrepreneurial things, but I was still trying to find myself. Then I found music.â€
In 2002, Rocko started Rocky Road, a development company that allowed him to play a role in every aspect of budding artistsâ€™ growth. â€œI was infatuated with the way people produced music form scratch, how you go in and make something out of nothing,â€ says Rocko. â€œI kinda like feel in love with that whole idea. I wanted to learn how to write and format songs and make beats.â€ Hitman Sammy Sam was one of Rockoâ€™s first clients, and together the two released â€œStep Daddy.â€ The novelty dance songâ€™s popularity lead to Sammy Sam getting signed to Universal and releasing his debut in â€™02 which included the Rocky Road logo on the albumâ€™s packaging.
Rocko worked with Young Dro next, a middle school friend who would go on to sign with T.I.â€™s Atlantic Records distributed label Grand Huslte. In the years that followed, Rockoâ€™s production company tracked songs for Dem Franchize Boyz, Lilâ€™ Flip and Pastor Troy, and while the vision for his company had been fulfilled, Rocko still wanted more.
In early 2006, Rocko decided it was time to become the artist he had always hoped to develop. â€œI knew I had the swagger to pull it off,â€ he says. â€œI was seeing all these guys who were not really who they said they were and getting away with it so I was like, â€˜Ok, if itâ€™s that easy, lemme do me.â€™â€
Rocko immediately reached out to all the key people who he had built relationships with throughout his years in the music business. He recorded songs with Rick Ross, and Jim Jones and occasionally leaked a song or two to test his product. â€œOnce I realized that people were feeling me I just went out and hit the streets real hard,â€ says the resourceful MC who recorded his hit â€œUmma Do Meâ€ in August of â€˜06. â€œI just started emailing the record out and going through different markets and promoting. We would be passing out CDs and posters and going out partying and making sure they played my song. The buzz just started to grow and before I knew it â€˜Umma Do Meâ€™ was at like 300 spins.â€
In October, Shakir Stewart, the senior vice president of A&R at Def Jam, contacted Rocko and persuaded him to fly to New York City to meet with the head of the famed label. â€œAt that time I was in the process of closing a deal somewhere else but Shakir was like, â€˜Roc, you gotta come up here, LA Reid wants to meet with you,â€™â€ he remembers. â€œMy first time meeting with Def Jam we closed the deal the same day. There were no negotiations. They had their mind made up. I couldnâ€™t even leave the building.â€
Rockoâ€™s debut album Self Made is now slated to drop in the first quarter of 2008. Inspired by his tireless drive and self sufficient know how, Rockoâ€™s LP is filled with tracks that inspire listeners to follow in his footsteps. Songs like the motivational â€œThis Morningâ€ and â€œTomorrowâ€ are all about manifesting your own destiny, while another standout cut, â€œShoot Me Downâ€ focuses on overcoming whatever obstacles arise along the way. With the majority of the production handled by Drumma Boi (Young Jeezy, Juvenile, Yung Joc, etc.), Self Made is sure to knock heads nationwide.
With a tireless work ethic, Rocko will continue to build a future through his love of creating music. â€œIâ€™m a workaholic,â€ says Rocko. â€œFor the next few years Iâ€™m going to go hard and Iâ€™m gonna keep it turned up to the max until I get to where I feel like I wanna be.â€ Spoken like a true star.