A Piece Presented by T-Rod:

There’s an aura that surrounds West Coast hip-hop that’s hard to describe. Something about the bounce, G-funk synths, and descriptions of palm tree bliss blending with street storytelling makes it distinct and alluring. In terms of a pure West Coast summer listen, let me point you to Rosecrans. A collaboration between the legendary DJ Quik and talented Problem, Rosecrans is up there with the greats of the region. It’s a love letter to that very California street: a tale of legends, those they inspired, and the flowers the West Coast deserves.

The first thing you’ll notice off-rip is the bounce on this record. Most mainstream rap today lacks this, often going for cold, chunky beats to give a more serious vibe. It’s the opposite on Rosecrans: melodies and drums come together to make a groove that is infectiously catchy. Quik’s work since the early 90s has aged like fine wine, so of course it sounds great in a modern context with Problem’s contributions, with songs like “European Vacation” and “Bad Azz” having these trunk knocking claps and woozy melodies that are perfect for a beachside cruise. It sounds fun and fresh, but still has bite, especially when Problem and Quik go in on a banger like “Move Something.”

That collaborative aspect is another reason why Rosecrans works so well. Problem handles a bulk of the rapping, occasionally co-producing; Quik handles all beats and hops in for vocals and verses. Their teacher/student dynamic hits, crafting memorable lines as they discuss parties, street hustle, and their similar comeups. Their mutual respect shows out especially on “A New Nite/Rosecrans Groove”, a love letter to Quik’s “Tonite” and to their own respective pasts. No one truly outshines the other, with Problems poetics countered by Quik’s looser pen; aka great emotional pacing. “You are Everything” is an inspiring single verse that invokes imagery of failures and successes, followed by a smooth R&B sunset jam on “Chichi’s Ride”, which is then followed by the murderous banger “Take It Off One Time” where Quik’s brutality blossoms.

With so much of camaraderie displayed between Quik and Problem, it makes sense that they would invite others onboard. Rosecrans has tons of collaborators, West Coast natives and otherwise, and they add excellent flavor to the dish. “Bad Azz” features Dom Kennedy and Westside Boogie operating at peak bragging powers, “Rosecrans” features one of The Game’s best verses on the atmospheric and biographical front, and MC Eiht paints a somber picture of his come up in Compton and its current status. The singing hits nicely too: Brittany Barber crushes it on “Chichi’s Ride” and Candace Boyd’s hook on “Rosecrans” is absolute perfection. Everyone here adds to the easygoing variety of the record, making it feel like one big celebration.

I hate to use the word “a vibe” to describe music, as its usually a shortcut to describe something you like but can’t really explain. Rosecrans is a vibe with substance: its summery aesthetic, excellent production and catchiness will hook you immediately. Its sequencing, songwriting, and collaborative nature will keep you on the line. It’s a great listen for a drive this summer, so give it a spin!

Writer’s Loose Notes:

While I haven’t listened to much of Problem’s catalogue, this record is an enticing invite for me and you to check out his stuff. He’s a great MC and producer and his work here cannot be understated. The same goes for DJ Quik: his 90s to 2000s output is some of the smoothest music you’ll ever hear, and he inspired many of today’s greats, including Kendrick Lamar and Vince Staples. Don’t just stick to the current stuff: find classics in the past!