The multi-talented Alex Rocks is back with his debut album Rise N Shine! After his 7” “Get Em Up” featuring Replife, the Madrid DJ, musician and beatsmith hooked up with French singer Jessica Fitoussi and US based rappers Sleep Sinatra, Junclassic, and Jack Jones. He carefully selected the tracks he felt would sit well with each artist, and they did not disappoint. From the Pharcyde-evoking title track to the raw soul on “Moonlight Creedence”, the rugged vibe of “My Time” and the fiery “All In Your Mind” – the heart-made beats are the perfect backdrop for the socially conscious and intelligent lyrics provided by his collaborators.
Alejandro Melero grew up in Madrid in the eighties, when the Spanish capital was living a cultural revolution, still crawling out of the dark hole that had been the 40 years of fascist dictatorship. Apart from jazz, flamenco, rock and pop, at the end of the decade and the start of the next, the radio started playing rap and hip-hop coming from across the pond. At the time, Spain was quite unfamiliar with hip-hop culture, but there were a few artists emulating their American cousins’ music and style, and for the fans, tape trading was an excellent way to share and discover the music of Young MC, Run D.M.C., Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Gang Starr, Leaders of the New School and the like. The way they made music made a lasting impression on young Alex.
Throughout the nineties, he kept digging, stumbling upon and investigating new and different sounds. He built up a substantial record collection and got in contact with dozens of other vinyl junkies just like him. It would, many years later, inspire him to start Spain Diggin’: a series of short videos featuring Spanish record collectors talking about their records and antics, shot, directed, and edited entirely by him. He came under the influence of the Beat Junkies and the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, resulting in him having a go at turntablism before he got his first Ensoniq EPS 16+ sampler and started to make his own beats.
Now using an Akai MPC2000XL, Alex Rocks’ sound is not like any of his Spanish peers. While there isn’t really an easily identifiable “Spanish sound”, one could argue that in most Spanish hip-hop, the music is secondary to the lyrics. Not so with Alex, who got guitar and harmony lessons from a former guitarist of Spanish rumba heroes Los Chichos and taught himself to play bass and piano as well. Add that to the fact that he's never been afraid to show his admiration for the sonic aesthetic of the East Coast, and you get a jazz-tinged sound with a definite Golden Age hip-hop quality to it.
Besides beatmaking, Alex Rocks is currently keeping himself busy with his jazz-funk live band, his aforementioned Spain Diggin’ series, and deejaying in clubs and on Radio Gladys Palmera.
- Hip-hop & Rap