Over the past year and change, Rocko Ballin has willed his way to the top of the rap conversation in NYC. Release by release, step by step, he’s gradually built a rabid fanbase on his own terms, meshing his knack for melodious hooks with a wide range of production styles, the most prominent of which is, of course, drill.
This past Friday, Ballin channeled this momentum toward the release of his debut project – an aptly-titled EP, Lucky Last Born. And the timing feels just right. Like Jay Z said, “First I snatched the streets / Then I snatch the charts / First I had their ear / Now I have their heart.” At one point last year, Ballin was the new kid on the block with an interesting new sound, just catchy enough to get the city’s ear. Over time, he stayed consistent and grew into his role as “the voice,” earning him the city’s heart. From there, he puts out a project to solidify his spot (Lucky Last Born), and it’s onto the charts.
With this in mind, Lucky Last Born is the exclamation point for Rocko Ballin. He built his audience with a lengthy, undeniable run of singles and music videos. Now, he unleashes a full project, stretching this vision out to show the full scope of his artistry and versatility, tied together with reality-driven verses and high-flying hooks.
10 tracks in length, Lucky Last Born is a statement, so don’t sleep. Listen to the full EP here and read our interview with Rocko Ballin below!
LL: First off, when did everything in music start for you?
I stated rapping in middle school then stopped until around the end of 2018. I recorded 3 tracks I had written and sent it over to my friend and my bother. They said it was hard, so I dropped them and they started going crazy. I just kept recording after that, kept going to the studio, and kept working on my craft.
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LL: As you’ve grown, you’ve built a lot of your audience around NYC. How’s the local love in your city been?
It feels good to know that people support what I’m doing right now, because it wasn’t always like that. Even back in school, teachers were always telling me “if you continue like this, you’re gonna be a bum.” Hearing that at the time, I’m just thinking I gotta do something [laughs]. So I tried music. I’ve always been able to sing, all my guys know that. And one day I was sitting in the crib listening to beats and I just started writing.
LL: How would you describe your sound?
I woulds say my sound is different. That’s one thing that everybody has to know – there’s a million people doing the same thing you’re doing, so the most important thing is to stand out and do it differently. You don’t wanna sound like everyone else, because you’re not everyone else. And the artists that people wanna sound like, that’s only because they stepped out and did their own thing. So I’m gonna do this sh*t myself and make n***as wanna sound like me [laughs]. I’m always thinking about how I can do it different.
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LL: A Lau seems to play a huge role in the direction of your music. Talk to me about your work with him, and the sound you guys have developed over time.
Me and A Lau used to make regular sh*t, like guitar beats, calmer stuff. We both realized that the drill scene was taking over, so A Lau started pushing me to try out the same thing I was doing – the flows, the melodies, all that – but over drill beats. The first song we made after that was “No Imposters.” There wasn’t even a booth, it was just a mic right next to the computer and we recorded that song. Ever since then I’ve been locked in with with him, Eli, Cyrus, a bunch of people.
LL: There’s been a lot of talk about you as the voice of East New York – why do you think that is?
It’s just what I say and the way I say it – it’s real sh*t, so people are jacking it. I’m making music that people can relate to. I’m not gonna get on a track and talk about double R’s and all that because I don’t got that yet. I only talk about what I know — I can’t speak about life I haven’t lived yet. The more experiences we get, the more we’ll have to talk about.
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LL: Explain the title of your EP, Lucky Last Born.
It’s called Lucky Last Born because I’m the last born in my family and I got something that not everybody got. I got a gift so I’m trying to use it.
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LL: Now that the Lucky Last Born EP is out, where do you want it to take you?
I want people to know I can really do this. A lot of people that are tuned in don’t know the versatility – they’re just tuned in for one thing or another thing. This tape is gonna show them my full potential and how far I can really take this sh*t.
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