Interview: Rossi Rock On Being Influenced By Latin Rock ‘N’ Roll Greats, Bodega Bamz & More
Rossi Rock, born Anthony Martinez, is a West Coast rapper who reps Suav City to the core. What’s Suav City you ask? He explained to us it’s a nickname for his native San Diego and a nod to the classic ’70s ballad “Suavecito,” by Latin rock ‘n’ roll band Malo. Rock, a second generation Mexican-American, burst into the game putting on for Latinos everywhere, incorporating his culture and identity in all his rap songs.
First introduced to demographics beyond California when he linked with Spanish Harlem’s own Bodega Bamz, Rossi Rock reached out to the Tanboys crew as a fan, first and foremost, and then as a fellow Latino artist at work. After some back-and-forth with OHLA, brother and manager to the crew’s head honcho, Bamz extended Rock an invitation to record “Suavcity” and perform at a Tanboys show in New York. A music video for the song released on the Menace Tan Society project followed soon thereafter. And the rest is history.
We welcomed Rock and his crew to the VIBE headquarters during his trip to the Big Apple, and talked about his new project and his performance with Tangirl Bonnie B at a show hosted by DJ Tanboy Ace. Rock delved into the concept behind his newly-released album Agassi, before sending Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump a few choice words. Get acquainted.
VIBE Viva: What’s the meaning behind the album title Agassi?
Rossi Rock: The album is titled Agassi after Andre Agassi, cause that’s what I wanted to be when I was younger. I used to play tennis and my pops used to take me out and train, that’s what he wanted me to do.
Why did you feel it was important to name yourself after the tennis player?
That’s who I am, that’s where I’m from. Before I had the choice to pick what I wanted to be it was already tennis, that’s was written for me.
Coming from a strict household where rap is stigmatized, how does your family feel about your rap career?
My mom was always supported it, and she recently went to one of my shows. She told me ‘people really f*ck with you’ cause she seen the love I was getting.
Did you bring her out on stage?
Nah, I’m waiting to do a bigger show so it can mean a lot more.
Can you further explain the term ‘Suav City?’
Suav City is San Diego, we needed a movement. Even though I was reppin I had a gang of homies with me, that was the name that was us. It also represents the Latino culture, most of my homies are Latino’s. We took Suav from Suavemente by Malo.
What is your creative process like?
I’m used to going in prepared, and laying down my vocals. But lately I go in and I kinda freestyle, just to catch that vibe. I freestyle at least the hook and may come back to it.
What are some essentials in the studio?
I like to be sober, have my beats ready and vibe out.
What do you look for as far as production is concerned?
I like simplicity, I don’t like too many sounds. I like a beat that makes me feel a certain way, if I don’t feel a certain way I can’t write nothing—producers just send me beats and I go through them, a lot more wack sh*t than dope sh*t, but I find gems here and there.
Are there any producers you would want to work with?
Pharrell bro, I need that Neptunes sound. That would be hard!
Can you tell me about the creative process behind “That’s My Lady?”
I had it written in San Diego, but I had a show in San Francisco, so I packed up my studio and we traveled. We were just going crazy in that hotel room, drinking Tequila and I recorded my vocals.
How did the Kane Cortez feature come about?
I had a space open and Kane was like ‘Let me record something bro’ and that was when he started spitting “Out in the South of France, I’m just doing my dance.” We played it back and it was just going dumb.
What made you choose that song to be your single?
After we recorded I did my show, and we went to a house party. At the house party they went crazy for that joint, playing it back to back to back, at that point I just knew.
You tweeted Lloyd Banks, Too Short and Pac are your most influential rappers, why?
Lloyd Banks is smooth bro, he was just killing all those features [Beg For Mercy] on those tracks. He doesn’t get the recognition he deserves for being a quiet dude. He’s so quiet that you put in your top 10 but you may forget cause he’s so quiet.
How ’bout Too Short?
I remember getting in trouble for listening to Too Short. His beats and he was so smooth, I take from that.
Pac is Pac, one of the dopest artist to ever live.
You tweeted that “Being Latino in this Rap sh*t ain’t easy,” why?
Yeah bro, I be getting put in that box. I get stereotyped as a Latino artist, and they always want to throw that tag on me. I don’t want that to hold me back.
If you could say anything to Donald Trump what would it be?
I’d say, f*ck Donald Trump.