It’s The Roc, B**ch

I got a lot of appreciation from yesterday’s Rap-A-Lot post. But as much as I LOVE the house that J. Prince built, being from Brooklyn, I can’t imagine the pride that fans from Houston had when they had someone reppin’ them at a time when the South got little to no recognition. Shit, I was just a fan because the music was dope, but for the South, Rap-A-Lot’s rise meant something much more. And that brings me to today’s topic: Roc-A-Fella Records.

I’ve been a Jay-Z fan since he dropped a 16 on Original Flavor’s “Can I Get Open” (Anyone who says they’ve been a Jay fan since “Hawaiian Sophie” is a DAMN liar—all he did was ad-libs). Granted Jay did rhyme like the Fu-Schnickens at first, but back then so did 80-percent of all rappers.

From there, were appearances on Big L’s album, Mic Geronimo’s album and a ton of R&B verses (who remembers Hi-Five’s “She’s Playing Hard to Get (Remix)” with Jay and Ski rhyming back to back?). But the first time I really took notice of Roc-A-Fella is when Jay dropped the “In My Lifetime” 12-inch single on Pay Day. I was already familiar with the song thanks to Stretch and Bobbito, and Ralph McDaniel—who played the video constantly—so when I saw the single on sale at my local record store on Flatbush and Beverley, I automatically copped. There was no cover art, just a brown sleeve with a Pay Day logo and the original Roc-A-Fella logo (You know, the one with the record and champagne bottle). I went home; played the record and just stared at the logo. Don’t ask me why but that shit just always stood out to me.

Back then, Jay was as underground as they come, it was a big deal to hear “Dead Presidents” and “Ain’t No Nigga” on Hot 97. Most forget that even Jay’s classic debut, Reasonable Doubt, was initially an independent release through Freeze/Priority. The growth of Roc-A-Fella felt organic and fans really connected to that shit, so when they signed a joint venture with Def Jam (in or around 1997) it was a win for Brooklyn.

While it originally started as a home for Jay-Z, Roc-A-Fella went on to put out classic material from DJ Clue, Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek, Cam’ron, Freeway and Kanye West. It’s amazing, considering Dame, Biggs and Hov’s humble beginnings. It’s a damn shame they couldn’t hold it together, but that’s another story.

In honor of my favorite record label of all-time, here are some of the best Roc-A-Fella clips by artists not named Shawn Corey Carter. —Rob Markman

Since Universal killed the embed codes on a lot of these YouTube videos, it kinda crippled me. Booooooooooooooo!

Memphis Bleek ft. Jay-Z “What You Think of That”

Amil ft. Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel & Jay-Z “4 Da Fam”

Diplomats “Dipset Anthem”

State Property “Roc The Mic”

State Property “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop”

Freeway ft. Beanie Sigel & Jay-Z “What We Do”

Kanye West “Through The Wire”

State Property “One For Peedi”

Cam’ron “Get ’Em Girls”

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  • Brahsef

    Awwww man, I always get depressed when I listened to the dipset anthem. They were ill when they dropped.

  • murK

    bleek’s verse on ’4 da fam’ gave u hope..

    • Rob Markman

      Man. I’m a Bleek FAN! He gets soooo shitted on, but he had JOINTS! He KILLED the originla version of “Mind Right”

      • Lowedwn

        The thing with Bleek is for every ray of hope he gives u, there’s some form of a shit sandwich stuck in between.

        And personally screw what people say about the Dynasty album “Holla” is my shit. “To Live in Die in NYC” was another fierce Bleek cut in my opinion. Too bad the collabo album with him and Beans never materialize, I was looking forward to that.

        And I know this is a Hip-Hop website, but don’t forget Christion was signed to the Roc too. “Full of Smoke” is a straight CLASSIC joint.

        • $ykotic/Don McCaine

          “don’t forget Christion was signed to the Roc too. “Full of Smoke” is a straight CLASSIC joint.”

          ‘Nuff said.


    I was a jay fan since originators (the first one.) Him and jaz both killed it, but jay made more sense to me.

  • OG Matt Herbz

    I remember hearing Jay on “Can I Get Open” but it took years for me to remember the name of the song and group so I could never confirm that it was him. I remember he was lanky as a mutha but he killed it on his verse with the double-time rhyming.

    –OG Matt Herbz–


    “dis not chris rock bitch, its the rock bitch/ & im the franchise, like the houston rockets”
    ^^that was the first thing i thought when i saw the title of this post.

    but, what can i say about the Roc that hasnt already been said.?

  • Chilly Willy

    Whatever happened to Original Flavor ? They didn’t reinvent the wheel, but it was nice. Jay killed it too on Many Styles. Oddly enough, I think those were the times when he was the closest he could ever be to rhyming like Common Sense. And I agree with you, Mr Deputy, Bleek is like the Nickelback of this rap ish. He ain’t that bad, but damn it feels nice to hate on Malik for the average rap fan (myself included from time to time). I guess you have to have the charisma and the sympathy of the audience to really make it, even if you’re skilled.

    “Well, cause Can I? is never a question of how but
    When I rip it, will I quit it, forget it
    Still I’m always on point whenever I hit it
    Biting’s forbidden, don’t do what ya gonna…, too late ya’ll did it
    I’m shredding the track, I’m burning you back-back, like Backdraft
    Brotha’s who running the crack down I stutter, that-that niggas fast
    I pick up the pieces, I straigten it out like Pete Rock
    Or C is, or creases, it’s your choice, Jesus–Christ
    I’m nice like that, you freakin gay right
    I flow like water, so put your finger in a dyke
    I slam, I got original flavor, pick up the jam
    I killed Chico, and now it’s just me- The Man
    Go get your gun I go all out with a can
    Brothers is having a hard time with who I am
    J kicken it, A rippin it, way past Y
    I’m so crraazzyy, AAAAHHHH…”

  • paychexx

    lookin at these videos it made me think…maybe jay was gettin jealous cuz dame had a whole different crew to get money with, young gunz,state prop,dipset, i mean peedi had a hot single, but bleek couldnt move numbers. think about that…dame basically back all them acts, now he blackballed…money is evil…

    • Rob Markman

      Bleek has a platinum album. Dont forget.

  • westcoastaggie

    It’s a damn shame Jay, Dame & Def Jam couldn’t keep the Roc together.

  • king blair

    4 Da Fam is by far Bleek’s best verse when I heard that sgit I thought this nigga was bout to drop a Classic LOL shame on a nigga. But that Understanding joint and Made were both dope albums but get overlooked cuz its Memph

  • latino heat

    damn the Roc was killing the game in the early 2000′s. there beats were classic. not just Kanye and Just either. Chad West was killing it on the boards. i don’t know why he never became a super producer cause his sound was dope.

    i don’t think i agree with Jay being jealous of Dame getting money with others, cause the others weren’t really moving any units. they were making great music but i don’t think they were getting paid enough for it to be on Jay’s radar.

    what hot single did Peedi Wack have anyway?

  • $ykotic/Don McCaine

    Wasn’t we talking ’bout Bleek a couple of months ago? What happened to that album?

    Rob you should do a “Successful Sidekick” drop…Who’s hype-man got paid or got played…

    Bleek’s been throwing heaters. Just everyone’s looking @ Jay.

    The Roc>>>Bad Boy

    Can’t say Jay was selfish when you can count all the cats that got put on & ate. You’re responsible for your own plate.

    Amil was horrible.


    • $ykotic/Don McCaine

      And why doesn’t anyone talk to Biggs? Fam has books for days with his memories…

  • GO-Getta’

    Get off his sack. Is Jay payin’ XXL 4 this publicity?

    i.e Only Ye & Cam albums r worth mentionin’ as other albums put out by Roc except 4 Jayz’s

  • alderman j

    Jay was jealous that everybody that DAME signed had alot more success thatn anybody he signed, (DAME signed KANYE, JAY didnt think KANYE could be a rapper back then check the chronology) think about it, CAM went platinum, TWISTA went platinum, KANYE went platinum, DIPLOMATS went gold, nobody JAY signed did anything(beans went gold once) bleek, young guns, freeway, amil, none of them did anything, then when that PURPLE HAZE was about to come out JAY blew that shit up!! See im a loyal dude from the hood, so i cant forgive JAY for that, im no longer a big JAY fan, i respect the music, but i dont buy nothing JAY endorses, and i dont be watching none of those lame specials where he always got to bring up (out of all people) JIM JONES, the nigga is disloyal. He could have done it a different way, he didnt have to kill everybodys buzz like that! The nigga is lame!

    • http://xxlmag jb

      Bleek has two gold albums. Do cats read billboard or what? SMH

    • http://xxlmag jb

      and Twista never signed to Rocafella. he was just affiliated.

  • alderman j

    ……and for everybody reciting that lame excuse about he put everybody on,thats crap, listen if you have ever been in the position to put somebody on and actually did it and watched everyone succeed and grow, you know that it bullshit, but for the most part he be talkiing to a bunch of niggas who aint done or had shit so they buy that lame garbage he spits, but i know better, i put niggas on and i didnt snatch the carpet out from under they feet while they was walking on it. If you give me a hundred dollars but you cost me 90, what did you really do for me?? Me and my niggas still in it together even though we grown and on to better things, everybody is still cool, aint no hard feelings between nobody, and everyone benefited from what we did. No one was left out in the cold!

  • Lefty

    man, that peedi crack beat will always be fire

  • DV8

    Too bad Jay / Dame and Biggs couldnt work through they problems. Rocafella was well on they way to making Death Row look like a holding cell. But its ever so clear as to who was the business mind behind The Roc. Dame had that shit poppin and was getting money from so many ventures it was crazy.