Rocks FOE – Legion Lacuna

Despite putting out his first EP only 3 years ago, Rocks FOE has been MCing since 2009. Even as far back as then —and despite sounding quite rough around the edges— the immediate qualities of his MCing abilities (riddim bending flows, a passionate, commanding voice, tricky wordplay) made him one of the most exciting up and comers to listen to.

Ever since then he’s evolved into one of the most idiosyncratic artists the grime scene’s had to offer. Emerging as a standout on sets and features with his trademark more-rapid-than-rapid-fire Gatling gun flow (which is still a force of nature but shaped to sound slightly more under control), Rocks also has a powerful presence behind productions with his own beats which come off as an explosive synthesis of grime, certain strains of underground hip hop, trap and arguably the gloominess of horrorcore.

Coming off of his debut album last year Fight the Good? Fight, Legion Lacuna still retains the dark tone of that album but is somewhat more accessible in approach. On his bandcamp he states that this release is “Not an EP, tape, something light” meaning that it is meant to serve as a stop gap for his next big project.

The first song on Leigon Lacuna, “Legion”, sees him indulging more in the heavy earthshaking bass sounds of trap, with a orchestra sample that adds more drama to the mix. In a roundabout way this song could be compared to the track “Hazardous” by mid 90s underground rap hermit, Godfather Don, in that it showcases the MCs in question displaying 3 very different flows over 3 verses to dizzying effect. Rocks beats his chest over the beat comparing himself to rap legends like Public Enemy and Eric B & Rakim, and while sonically it bears no relation to the two it retains the fiery intensity of the former and the technical dexterity of the latter.

“Gong” is the most Wu-Tang Clan sounding song on the platter, sounding like a cut off their 3rd album “The W” even going as far referencing 70s martial arts classics like Snake in the Eagles Shadow and Enter the Dragon and has a eerie sample that creeps along behind the pounding drums.

The most interesting song is “Sound That” with is thundering piano, air horn and for old school grime heads the most interesting use of the “HEY!” sample from Spookys “Joyride” dub in a long time. On this track more than the previous ones it seems like Rocks is trying to channel the spirit of peak Dot Rotten, but going further in terms of his complexity and thirst for blood than even Dot did in his “RIP Young Dot” days. This track doesn’t so much lift you out of your seat as it does catapult the listener.

Something noteworthy about Legion Lacuna is that for all its bombast and fury, it’s very clear that this project was seen as a way for Rocks to flex his considerable muscle and shut up potential naysayers with regards to his rapping ability. To go back to how it takes influence from certain strains of late 90s underground rap, this release seems to hearken back to groups like Company Flow or cult fan favourites like Scaramanga where every new song was basically the canvas for a “lyrical slaughter”. Rocks intricate efforts come without the grating confrontational attitude of the former or the suffocating surreal density of the latter.

Anytime Rocks FOE puts out something new an interesting experience awaits, and following his debut album even a collection of seemingly straightforward tracks and easter egg instrumentals proves to be no exception.

Written by /
Published /
June 14
Category /
Album Review