The underground hip-hop was his coming of age, and the energy that existed in the area at the time was undeniable.
“It was a real thing that people felt and loved and lived,” says Roach, who made his own moves in the Bay Area hip-hop scene with the release of his “Roachy Balboa” mixtape in 2010. Pitchfork gave the recording a 7.7 (high marks for the music site) and called it “one of the most energetically fun rap records” released that year.
Ask him about the current state of hyphy, and he struggles to explain. On a strictly musical level, the sound is more accepted than ever, and nationally, too. The influence of both the sound and the scene has spawned underground movements and is being felt to this day.
But it’s different now. The Bay Area doesn’t feel like the center of the universe like it once did, he says.
Roach’s output of music has always been prolific. He’s released a new project just about every six months, including two Roachy Balboa follow-up mixtapes. And they all remained true to how he started. The music is still upbeat, hyphy is you will.
It’s what’s he’s known for.
But he’s different too. He has two kids now — sons — and he’s finally making a living doing music and touring. That comes with its own set of struggles. There is the freedom of not having a regular job and what that affords, but there’s also the months away from home.
“You get the worst end of it. But you get the best end of it too,” he says.
Currently Roach is in the midst of his Keep It Lit Tour, which features The Jacka, Jay Stalin and Husulah. He’s making rounds to the places he hasn’t been played in a while, Chico, Reno and the Central Valley. The tour stops at the Tulare Fairground on tomorrow night.
“People were getting made at me for not coming down there,” he says. “You have to go back and show some love.”
His latest mix tape “Roachy Balboa III” was released in July and is the 2013 version of the original, changes and all.
“That was the point of it,” he says.