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Zilla Rocca around the clock: 'I'm addicted to being productive' Gifted in the art of noir rap, Philly representative and Wreckin Crew member Zilla Rocca draws inspiration from stories, whether it's crime or comic books, Scorsese flicks or forgotten films. Those inspirations lead to multiple releases already. Just last week Zilla dropped the 'Weak Stomach' EP as a precursor for his forthcoming full length 'Shadowboxers'.

Elliot Smith

Congrats with the 'Weak Stomach' EP. Why should people check it?

Because it's the perfect compliment to a double shot of whiskey when you're watching noir flicks on Netflix. It's the reintroduction to The Shadowboxers, the suede-headed villains I keep on call when the mood is right for mixed pain-kill rap.

It also settles the mood for your upcoming 'No Vacation For Murder' album. Please enlighten us on that.

The album is about revenge, what you're willing to do, exact it on someone, and how those choices can affect you and your target in the long run. It's also a larger look at the city that houses all these retaliations and get backs. That collective karma sticks to its citizens. Even when things appear to be at a peaceful standstill, there's still someone out there who has been wronged in the past and is working on evening out the score. It's the story of my life in South Philly, where mob ties and beefs don't ever end, they just go on hiatus. Philly as a whole now is one of the most murder-ridden cities in American, so there's no vacation for murder.

The 'Weak Stomach' EP features producers slash colleague crew members Small Pro and Has-Lo. They already made noise, but what about another producer on the EP, Blurry Drones...

He produced the first Shadowboxers LP 'The Slow Twilight' in its entirely back in 2009 and has contributed beats to projects from myself, Curly Castro, and Alex Ludovico since. There's no one choosing samples like him. A lot of the beats we've mashed out from him are anywhere from 2 to 4 years old and they never sound dated. He's mastered doom and melody as a production vibe.

Also doom is the song 'Stay Clean', which has an Elliot Smith sample...

Has-Lo produced the 'Stay Clean' remix and is a big Elliot Smith fan. He was inspired by the original Elliot Smith sample on the first 'Stay Clean' version from 'The Slow Twilight LP'. I got into Elliot's stuff towards the end of college and went backwards to retrace his catalogue. I like how he purposely decided to change his style. He started off almost doing nothing but acoustic records and then started bringing in a band and bigger arrangements. Even though he died tragically, I always respected his bravery and his incredible voice.

Also incredible are The Beatles. You covered their 'Maxwell's 'Silver Hammer'. Why that song?

It's a song that my dad played in the house all my life. 'Abbey Road' was his favourite Beatles album, so for Christmas last year I decided to cover it as his gift. He loved it. I loved it. Small Professor, who made the beat many moons ago, loved it. When I was finishing the 'Weak Stomach' EP, that song fit the vibe of the project beautifully. And I always want to let things happen organically, so I ran with it. It's pretty ballsy, but I think it proves how incredible the writing of the original is that I can flip it almost 40 years later in a totally different genre.

Jim Jarmusch

Another influence for you and your Wreckin Crew is the Wu-Tang Clan. Let's imagine. If the Wrecking Crew was Wu-Tang Clan, who would be who?

That's tough. I know who we all want to be and who our favourites are and why. Castro is the oldest of our crew and a masterful storyteller like Genius. Plus he has the ill voice and he's from Brooklyn. Has-Lo wants to be Shallah Rae, but I think he's more of a young RZA in his production and rawness on the mic. Plus RZA got really open on those Bobby Digital albums with his emotions and energy. Raekwon is always smooth, and Has has more of an edge like RZA, plus both are highly intelligent. When I was young I wanted to be Inspectah Deck, but now I think I'm more like Ghostface because I vary up my sound every time out. I also love telling stories and I love producing projects that aren't mine. If you look at the exec producer credits on a lot of Wu albums, Ghostface's name is on there. Man! that was stressful. Oh yeah -- my girlfriend is Method Man.

What's your fav RZA soundtrack?

'Ghost Dog' again and again! I remember seeing that in the theatre just because RZA did the soundtrack. Jim Jarmusch is now one of my favorite directors. Peace to him for pulling RZA into Hollywood first.

You saw RZA's 'The Man With The Iron Fists'?

Haven't seen it yet. I'm fired.

(laughs) So what movie would you have liked to have made a soundtrack for?

The movie 'Brick'. It has a chilling score and it's a great neo-noir flick, but I'd love to do an 'American Gangster'-type spin on it where I'd be rapping from the first person perspective of Joseph Gordon Levitt's character. Being in high school, looking for the person who murdered my girl, cutting class and whipping ass!

When I talk to people about Scorsese, they always forget 'Mean Streets' and 'After Hours'. How can I convince them not to forget those?

It's easy: you just sell 'Mean Streets' as DeNiro being young and reckless at all costs. Sort of like the Joe Pesci character from Goodfellas but set in 'A Bronx Tale'. It's when DeNiro was really starting to challenge Jack Nicholson for best actor of the '70s. 'After Hours', well everyone has had a night like that in their 20's. It starts off with the potential of bagging a fly female and the night ends up going to hell in a hand basket. Every guy over 26 years old can relate to that.

Kit Tolliver

Who's Kit Tolliver?

Kit Tolliver is the main character in this hard case crime book called 'Getting Off'. It was one of the wildest books I've ever read. This chick Kit Tolliver travelled the country under different names to seduce men and kill them immediately after intercourse. She was so thorough to where she never got caught. One day she realizes there's been a handful of guys who she didn't have a chance to finish off, so she goes on a quest to find these guys, sleeping with them, and check them off her death list. The book is waaaaaay more filthy and devious than my description.

Curly Castro put you up on the author? He wrote a book about Fidel Castro...

I picked it up at the library. I love the hard case crime books. They actually gave me a cease and desist 'cause my old logo was a jack off their logo. That's when I knew I finally 'made it'.

'Weak Stomach', 'Wu-Tang Pulp', 'Full Spectrum', 'Party With Villains'... honestly we lost count of your releases the last few months...what do you eat for breakfast?

I never skip breakfast! That's the key. Plus, I realized I get really depressed when I'm not working on a project. And I'm surrounded by guys who want to be incredible artists. We're always working. The stuff that comes out sometimes is 2 years old or it could be 3 months old. This is all I know since like 2005. I've never not worked on one or two great projects at the same time. I'm addicted to being productive.

How do you keep up the pace?

I'm really good at organizing and compartmentalizing. Plus I record and engineer my own stuff, and I've befriended original producers and incredible visual artists who always want to work. And I know when to step off when things aren't clicking. Once I make up my mind though, projects are getting done.

You get your inspiration from everywhere. What are some of the most crazy sources?

Usually I get the best inspiration from stories: either comic books, novels, overlooked movies, stuff I've experienced, or things I've heard from my friends or family. I have a song called 'The Cold Ten Thousand' on a joint project with Has-Lo that's inspired by a guy I used to deliver pizza with. He attempted to jump off the Walt Whitman Bridge in the middle of rush hour, because he got caught being unfaithful by his wife. The chick he got caught messing with was our boss' wife! And our boss was cool with it! My version of the story is a little different though.

What's next for you and the Wrecking Crew?

I'm gearing up for the Shadowboxers LP, which Castro and Has-Lo arranged and appear on multiple times, along with Roc Marciano, Open Mike Eagle, Geechi Suede of Camp Lo, and The Kid Daytona. Castro is working on the follow-up to his debut LP 'Fidel' for Man Bites Dog Records. Has and I are wrapping up our Jaylib-type album as the group 2004 Commodores.

Where do you see yourselves in ten years?

In ten years, I want to either be a detective, a senior copywriter at an ad agency, or a contractor. I want to be a great father and husband. I want to still buy comic books and records no matter how old I get. And I want to come home everyday from whatever I'm doing and have a nice glass of bourbon.



POSTED 03|27|2013
conducted by cpf

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