Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Slick Talkin' with Rocky Rivera

Let me take you back a few months for this introduction. It’s 2am on a hot July night. I can’t sleep and the humidity in the air is overwhelming. I pop open my laptop and sign onto Facebook hoping to like statuses and comment about this and that until I tire myself out. I scroll through the news feed and a music video is the top story in my network. I click play on the “Slick Talk” clip and watch the whole thing in awe. The tiny female MC in the video dropped one of the sickest verses I’ve heard in quite some time over J-Dilla’s “Fuck the Police” beat during the one minute 22 second run time. My jaw is on the ground. “Who the hell is she?!” I ask myself. Her name is Rocky Rivera and the Bay Area raised/LA transplant is someone you should know too. Get to know Ms. Rivera after the jump!
If the stage name Rocky Rivera doesn’t ring a bell you may have heard her real name on TV or seen it on the by-lines in some of the most popular magazines in media. Krishtine de Leon’s first claim to fame was as a contestant on the 2007 MTV docu-series I’m From Rolling Stone where the (then) Ruckus Magazine Editor-in-Chief beat out five other aspiring music journalists for a contributing editor position on the RS staff. "The most important thing that came out of it besides writing for the most prolific music publication in history, was showing young writers of color that there was a place for them in the media and that you don’t need an Ivy League education to follow your dreams and succeed,” Krishtine commented on her MTV experience.
From there, de Leon went on to pen stories for other media heavyweights including The Source, XXL and is currently the Editor-at-Large at M.I.S.S. With her passion for hip hop and dedication to her storytelling craft, Krishtine tested the waters as an artist using the name EyeASage as part of the Rhapsodistas. The switch from print to performance wasn’t too hard of a transition for the lyricist. “Journalism is a lot of fact-finding and research, so it was a matter of organizing the information in an entertaining way. Writing lyrics, however, takes a lot more thought and work since I’m creating something that’s completely original, not to mention, to a beat!” she elaborated. Eventually, the all girl crew broke up and EyeASage progressed as her solo career as Rocky Rivera. Rocky has completed three mixtapes thus far: Married to the Hustle, Rocky Rivera and the newest one Pop Killer just dropped over the summer. She came fully focused and kept it hood for Killer. “I refined my writing process and did more of what I’m good at, which are heavy hood 808s and super knockin’ bass. My first couple projects were to show my range, and this was to give the people what they wanted and for free,” she said.
Thus far, the male-dominated hip hop industry has warmed up to the small but aggressive Double R and responds well to her gimmick-free persona. “With caution, naturally, but the more I release, the more they see how universal my music really is,” Rock explained, “I get respect because I demand it. And I work hard not to take the easy route. I know that sex sells and it’s difficult to navigate around that, being as though it’s the easiest way to get male attention. But I don’t come with a box of gimmicks or crazy costumes, so I think they appreciate my down-to-earth approach.”
Rivera continues to spit her flows about the everyday struggle, sexism, inequalities and other social issues in her fourth solo outing, Gangster of Love, due out in 2012. Her style is raw but honest and her story is one of the most unique ones in today’s music scene. Music critic Jeff Chang, author of “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation” wrote about Rocky and stated, “My whole career has been about getting people to hear the stories that need to be heard, and I think her story really needs to be heard.” We’ll cosign that. 

Catch more of Rocky Rivera at Tumblr / Twitter / YouTube / Facebook

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