I still remember hearing that Wyclef Jean was going to have the Rock on his single. It was 21 years ago, when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was in his fourth or fifth reign as WWF World Champion. The Rock wasn’t a movie star yet – he would debut as a terrible CGI effect in The return of the mummy a year later – but it already looked like he might be the coolest person on earth. The Rock had been a egotistical, talkative heel who had become a crowd favorite simply because he was so good to egocentric chatter. I would like to watch Monday evening gross along with a bunch of other dorm cafeteria workers, and everyone was yelling on TV when the Rock wasn’t on. As in: “Put the Rock back!” The man seemed to be able to do anything. Was the Rock going rap? Did Wyclef know something we didn’t know? It sounded vaguely plausible. After all, egotistical shit-talk is a pretty important skill for just about any rapper, and Rock had this.
At this point, the Wyclef race was still on and it looked like he could help usher in a new star. The whole Canibus experience hadn’t quite worked out, but Destiny’s Child had its first success with Wyclef’s “No, No, No” remix. The Fugees were still a fresh memory. Lauryn Hill had become a cultural phenomenon, and Wyclef himself was not that far behind; The carnival, his solo debut in 1997, had been a much appreciated success. I could not wait to hear the Rock on a song by Wyclef. But then, “It doesn’t matter” came out, and “It doesn’t matter” was hilarious garbage.
It turned out that The Rock wasn’t going to rap; he was just going to shout some of his slogans, which sounded even more absurd in a context other than wrestling. (“It does not matter if you have a Cool bentley! “) This also turned out to be the exact moment Wyclef Jean fucked up – the moment he thought it would be a good idea to put Kenny Rogers and Pharoahe Monch on the same track or use The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II A Book as album title. The Rock lost none of its momentum by appearing on “It Doesn’t Matter,” but The Rock’s dream of rap career just wasn’t coming true.
Looking back, I should have known it was going to go wrong. The Rock was not a rapper. He had swagger, but it wasn’t swaggering rapper. He was a crazy, muscular swagger – a sporty swashbuckler, more or less. I guess The Rock also had a song with Slick Rick on a 2001 CD of WWF entry themes, but that song, âPie,â isn’t really something I could call a rap song. it is also, for some reason, violently offensive to Asians, and that includes “hermaphrodite” as an insult. Vince McMahon probably thought this shit was hilarious.
The point is: The Rock has never done anything effortlessly. Part of the fun of watching his wrestling career was seeing how he transformed the crowd’s utter disinterest, in a matter of years, into an intensity of love / hate crackling out of sheer force of will. The Rock was screaming in front of the camera for a few minutes each week, and if he had ever had any interest in rap music, then he would have been saying some rap bullshit at some point. It never happened. Instead, around 2003, The Rock had an incredible heel kick singing rockabilly songs on acoustic guitar about how much he hated every town he visited and how ugly all the women there were.
The Rock’s particular skill set was found to work outside of a wrestling context, but that context had nothing to do with music. Instead, The Rock has become the highest-paid movie star in the world, a backup franchise that now seems to appear exclusively in movie adaptations of things that shouldn’t be adapted into movies: Baywatch, Carnage, Jungle cruise. The closest rap the Rock came to in the past 20 years was when he played the voice of Maui in Disney’s Moana and sang “You’re Welcome”, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. My children had the Moana Constantly looping soundtrack for about three months, so I can tell you that Miranda’s demo for âYou’re Welcome,â a really delicious song, had a bridge that basically sounded like her Broadway-dork version of rap. However, The Rock didn’t even really rap a la Miranda on this song. He pretty much just screamed Miranda’s words out, like they were fighting slogans.
In fact, the mere idea of âârapping Rock has gotten so ridiculous that Saturday Night Live basically made a joke of it. In a 2017 sketch, the whole central motif of daddy’s joke is Kenan Thompson trying to get a band started, but too many rappers show up. But the real nonsense was the Rock in a fur coat, calling himself King Keef. The mere idea of ââthis guy doing rap was supposed to make you laugh. Bobby Moynihan made a more plausible rapper.
So when Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, 49, performed on a Tech N9ne track last week, rapping his first rap verse, I was not ready. Tech N9ne is a fascinating figure, an independent success story who has spent decades carving out his own hugely lucrative Midwestern speed-rap empire and while only interacting with the mainstream at a glance. rap. Tech N9ne is the same age as Rock, and when Rock made a name for themselves in wrestling, Tech N9ne was tearing up clubs and establishing themselves as a regional figurehead with their own fan cult adjacent to Juggalo. (The Rock tells Billboard, âNot many people know that, but I’ve been friends with Tech for many, many years now.â) If you’re not from the Midwest, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard a Tech N9ne song. in your life. If you are of the Midwest, there’s a good chance you think of him as a towering figure. Personally, I don’t really get anything out of Tech N9ne’s music, but I’m glad he’s there which makes things weirder.
On Friday, Tech N9ne released ASIN9NE, his 23rd album. The LP has appearances from rappers like Lil Wayne and E-40, as well as various Strange Music associates of Tech. Somehow, for reasons I can’t imagine, Tech also has Rock’s very first rap verse on his song âFace Offâ. (Presumably, “Face Off” is named after the 1997 John Woo film, which features a wonderful performance by the Rock’s Be cool co-starring John Travolta. The other Face / Off the star is Nicolas Cage. As far as I know, Cage was never in a movie with The Rock, but he was in a movie called The rock.)
The Rock comes at the end of “Face Off”, after some jaw-dropping quick rap verses. Tech N9ne says he’s got hell ahead and you’re sweeter than a Yoplait thing. Joey Cool says he’s hugging them like he’s Malcolm X, like he’s Dr King, like he’s Cornel West. King Iso is rapping fast enough that I can catch maybe every third word he says. Everything is loud and explosive and sweaty, like so many Tech N9ne songs are loud, amplified and sweaty. And then the Rock, a man who made a name for himself by being loud, explosive and sweaty, comes along, and he finally spits out the rap verse I thought he could do on “It Doesn’t Matter” 21 years ago.
The verse from The Rock is good, I guess? He definitely put job into it. Someone trained him. But The Rock says he wrote his verse, at Tech’s request and that Tech then helped him polish it: âI wrote everything the best I could, then I got closer to Tech. . And this is where his mastery really shone, as he was then able to help me with word structure, cadence, and overall thinking. Either way, you can’t teach someone to keep up with the beat, and Rock does.
On “Face Off”, the Rock seems to have fun. He says a few wrestling era slogans. He says Black and Samoan is in his veins and his culture beats with Strange. He uses the word “motherfucker” which is funny. (The Rock hasn’t been in an R-rated movie since Baywatch in 2017, and I haven’t seen that one. It’s been a while since I’ve heard Rock swear.) Most of the time, Rock sounds like a motivating type of coach. In the video, he looks like an impossible muscle ball, and his Strange Music tank top appears to be about to explode into shreds of fabric. Anyway, we now know how it sounds when the Rock raps. Decades of vague and vain curiosity have brought us to this. Now we know it, and the Rock will never have to rap again.
1. Nardo Wick – âWho wants smoke? “(Remix)” (Feat. Lil Durk, 21 Savage, & G Herbo)
When Jacksonville teenage rookie Nardo Wick released the original “Who Want Smoke” in January, I didn’t notice, maybe because Nardo spends the whole song sounding like he’s trying to rap without fully opening. the mouth. But Nardo had the good idea, in the middle of the verse, to go “[STOMP STOMP STOMP STOMP] what’s that? “This part is so much fun that all of the most famous guests of this remix make their own variations of it. The remix is ââan instant hit, partly because of it and partly because of it. because Cole Bennett is using the video as his audition for an action film director gig right on Redbox. I love everything about that.
2. Russ Millions – “6:30”
Russ Millions is on a mission to turn the UK exercise into shameless party music, and now he’s dressing like a Baseball Fury in his new video. I support it.
3. The Alchemist – “Flying Spirit” (feat. Bruiser Brigade)
The all new from the alchemist This thing of us 2 The EP is worth your time, but my favorite song is the one where he recruits Danny Brown’s entire Bruiser squad to rap on ominous sci-fi keyboard beeps. I love that Brown spent his entire 2021 building his super-talented crew, and I love that his crew are good enough to justify the work. Bruiser Wolf murders this.
4. Key Glock – “Ambition For Cash”
Tay Keith went it all The Legend of Zelda on this rhythm.
5. Artz & Bugy – “Time of War” (feat. Freddie Gibbs)
Artz & Bugy are a production due from Turkey which is currently making an international push. If you’re trying to put one of your beats in the best possible light, then it’s always a good idea to ask Freddie Gibbs to rap on it.