The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

For the love of lyrics

City College's Alberto Rocha is a member of Primitive Intruments, a local hip-hop group. Kate Paloy | [email protected]

MF Doom, Talib Kweli, CL Smooth, Mos Def and Common are all some of the greatest hip-hop lyricists, and one day Alberto Rocha hopes he can be included on that list.

Twenty-two-year-old Rocha is a full-time college student at City College, part-time worker and an aspiring hip-hop artist. Rocha is half of the hip-hop duo Primitive Instruments, which also consists of his cousin, 20-year-old Marco Gonzales. Together the two hip-hop emcees are known by their stage names, Retrospek and MG.

Rocha says they formed the group because of their love for hip-hop and the avenue of expression it has allowed for them.

“We always wanted to rap but I never thought I would hop on a microphone,” Rocha says. “But you have to start somewhere.”

Growing up, Rocha was not a big fan of hip-hop. Instead he listened to the likes of the Beatles, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, which were all influences from his older sister.

Alex Rocha, who is Alberto’s younger brother, says, “I remember us kids were really into some of the older rock ‘n’ roll our older sister would show us.”

Around the time he entered middle school, some family members introduced him to hip-hop. The rest was history.

While there are many aspiring hip-hop artists, what separates Rocha from the rest of the pack are his smooth beats and intricate lyrics. He uses lyrical content to build a bigger picture, such as how every puzzle piece fits together perfectly to form something greater. Using a vast array of nouns, adjectives and similes, he creates not only music, but also lyrical complexities.

“I just want be a lyricist,” Rocha says. “For me it’s all about how clever can I get with these words and how complex I make them.”
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In his music, Rocha says he has been influenced from everything from A Tribe Called Quest to the Beatles, which has
helped mold him into the artist he is.

He also uses his upbringing as a child growing up in the ’90s as lyrical influences when writing his music. Listeners can find references from movies, television, video games and sports in some of the content.

With a job and being a full-time student, along with pursuing a career in music, Rocha has a hectic time balancing them all. According to his cousin and the other half of Primitive Instruments, Gonzales says Rocha makes it all work.

“The guy is always working,” Gonzales says. “Whether it’s school, work or music, he is able to balance them all out and take care of his responsibilities.”

Performing at local venues such as downtown Sacramento’s Sol Collective, they have yet to receive major exposure, but that may not matter much to Rocha. As a hip-hop artist Rocha reassures he is not looking for high-profile fame or fortune that many may seek, but just wants to be remembered as a great lyricist.

“I don’t need the riches or I don’t need all the fame, but I just really want people to enjoy my music and the story my lyrics
create,” Rocha says.

Rocha feels that his music helps connect all aspects of his life and that it creates a guideline on how to approach everyday tasks. He is adamant that if a person has goals and aspirations, effort must be put forth, whether it is a job, school or hobby.

“I feel that when you do something, you put 100 percent of your effort into that, and if you don’t, why even try if you aren’t
going to give it your all?” Rocha says.

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