Reppin’: Atlanta, GA
Martha Stewart probably doesn’t listen to rap music, but even she has to appreciate Rocko’s do-it-yourself attitude. As CEO of his own development company, Rocky Road, the Atlanta native experienced some brief success with the release of his former client Hitman Sammy Sam’s 2003 album, The Stepdaddy. But when working with Sam turned into more trouble than it was worth, and his only other artist, a pre–Grand Hustle Young Dro, wound up in jail, it was time for Rocko to explore a Plan B.
“At that point, I told myself that, if I find another guy I want to invest in, his swag has to be better than mine,” says the man born Rodney Hill. “I wasn’t able to run into a guy I wanted to put my money into, so I did it myself.”
Rocko’s first venture as a solo artist was “Umma Do Me,” which led to a deal with Def Jam in October 2006. The easy-riding ode (produced by Drumma Boy) to all things better than yours is a peek into what Rocko has dubbed “swag rap.” “Swag rap is doing you to the fullest,” says Rocko, who has done behind-the-scenes writing and producing for the likes of Lil’ Flip and Dem Franchize Boyz. “With me, I feel like I’m the best thing that has touched the earth, and we all should feel like that. I could care less what you think about me.”
After dropping “Umma Do Me” independently last August, Rocko released his DJ Scream–hosted Swag Season mixtape, which featured steadily growing street records like “Dis Morning” and “Tomorrow.” With his name spreading across the southern United States, Rocko was sought out and signed by the senior vice president of A&R at Def Jam, Shakir Stewart. Now the brash rookie’s debut album, Self Made, is set to be released in March, with production from DJ Toomp, Jazze Pha and Cool & Dre.
“Majority of the time, people are haters [anyway],” says Rocko about those who are unhappy with his sudden rise to rap stardom. “For every one person that don’t like me, five people do. As long as I’m reaching who I’m supposed to, I’m comfortable.”