Zilla Rocca is a busy man. He is a Philadelphia-based rapper who’s been writing and rhyming for more than thirteen years. From 2003 to 2006, he was a part of the experimental hip-hop group Crooked Souls, which released Break Bread & Nails. In 2004, he teamed up with Nico the Beast to make the rap duo Clean Guns. He created Beat Garden Entertainment, a Philadelphia rap consortium, with Nico and Octavius “Big O” Mitchell. And then in 2008, Zilla Rocca teamed up with producer Douglas Martin (aka Blurry Drones) to create the 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers. With Martin on production and Rocca on the mic, they released a breakthrough album, The Slow Twilight, which was loosely based on the noir film Blast of Silence. Earlier this year, 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers released an EP, Broken Clocks.
The 5 O’Clock Shadow Boxers have gained a considerable online following by working unconventional (read: Indie Rock) influences into a gritty, East Coast rap sound. Rocca’s verses center around the feelings attendant to living among the urban decay and uncertainty of the burgeoning 2000s. You can stream the album and EP by hitting the links above. Earlier this week, Zilla Rocca took a break from rapping, blogging, Tweeting, and Tumblring to answer a few questions via email.
10 Listens: I have to admit, I first got into the 5 O’Clock Shadowboxers because of the song “Eric Lindros,” which samples Cat Power. It seemed like a novelty song. But after listening to the complete album, it definitely hangs together pretty cohesively. Did you and Douglas Martin plan on making an album that combined traditional indie-type music (Cat Power, Velvet Underground, Elliot Smith, etc.) with hip hop?
Zilla Rocca: I don’t think we planned on doing a whole album in that style. It just happened to be the way Douglas was throwing beats together, and everytime he sent me something of that ilk, it spoke to me moreso than “traditional” hip hop sounding tracks, so to speak. I think after 4-5 songs, we realized this would be the sound of Shadowboxers, but then again on our new EP, Douglas sampled Fela Kuti and pulled it off. Whatever he’s listening to usually ends up in the beats I get from him. During that stretch, I’m assuming he was heavily into the artists that ended up on the LP.