Rock City Talks Akon, Obama and Their Debut Album
It seems the average American hip-hop listener is still inding it hard to put a finger
on Rock City. The St. Thomas-born brothers Timothy and Teron have compiled an impressive track record as everything from backup dancers and songwriters to MC’s and their most recent title, thug&B pioneers. For the two kids who went from having nothing to being signed to Akon’s Konlive imprint, their rags to riches story is anything but ordinary. –gavin philip godfrey
To you say guys had it tough growing up would be an understatement. Paint a picture if you can, of life growing up in St. Thomas?
Teron: Our Island is 32 square miles. Its small, everybody knows everybody, its one of those situations and it’s the Caribbean, so reggae and calypso are the main sources of music, the main kind of music that everybody listens to. It was very, very difficult for me and my brother coming up, coming from a hip-hop background with both of my parents playing all the rap records in the house and then trying to do hip-hop in the Caribbean. That was definitely one hill that we had to get over and just the fact of the island being so small, no one of a major caliber comes there to look for talent. The Jay-Z’s and the Jermaine Dupri’s and the Clive Davis’ of the music business, when they come to the islands they come there on vacation. They don’t want to hear you sing, they don’t care who can dance. So those were the things that we had to face coming up in the islands and also coming from one of the poorest projects and the worst projects. So, you know growing up in St. Thomas, it made us who we are, but it was definitely different
from everybody else. Our situation is definitely like none other.
Ok, you guys have been quoted as citing Kriss Kross as the hip-hop group that made you want to become MCs. Any truth to this?
Timothy: When Kriss Kross came out, for me and my brother, they kind of reminded us of ourselves. They were kind of around the same age as were, probably a few years older than us and you know their whole style– how they wore their clothes backwards, how they rocked their hair, all that. Me and brother were very hipped on that and that right
there really changed our whole life, that was what made me and my brother want to pick up the mic and say, ‘Yo, I want to MC, I want to rhyme.’
Tell us about the concept behind your 2009 debut, Wake the Neighbors. Can you give us insight into what the album will sound like? Is it done?
Timothy: We talk about a lot of real stuff, we try to address a lot of real issues in our
music and we were like we’re going to wake the neighbors up in both ways. We feel like
people need really wake up and see what’s going on out here in this world, so we came
with Wake the Neighbors just off of that. A lot of people are asking, when does the album come out. Is the album finished? Me and my brother like to go by the motto of, the album is never finished until it’s in stores. So we’re still working. I’ve got to let people know like, me and my brother, we’re some workaholics. We don’t drink, we don’t smoke–not that there’s anything wrong with that. We don’t party, all we do is work, take care of our family. Some people ask, damn, well what do you indulge in? What are your vices? We like clothes and we like shoes and we like movies, so that’s where we get our fun. Outside of that, it’s all about our family.
You guys have a song out on the net about President-elect Barack Obama. Why bother speaking out on Obama and what is it about him that made you guys feel like you had to put your two cents in?
Teron: The reason we spoke out on Barack Obama is because this is the first election that we actually paid attention to. When Clinton was running we were just yelling, Clinton because that’s what my parents were yelling, that’s what everybody in the hood was yelling. When Al Gore came in, it was like our whole life we’ve always been like Democrats because they say that’s what poor folks are supposed to say and we never were into politics. We wanted to do music to change the way people looked at music and [Obama] wants to change and so we decided we’re going to do a song for Obama because we believe in what he’s saying.