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Roach Gigz Brings New Life to Bay Rap Scene

In Clubs, Music
INKED UP Roach Gigz kicks off his tour at Avalon on March 30.

INKED UP Roach Gigz kicks off his tour at Avalon on March 30.

Roach Gigz’s scrubby, pestilent moniker betrays him. Unpolished and more than a little wily, the twenty-three year old rapper doesn’t immediately jump out as the figurehead for an entire movement—until you remember that he’s from the Bay Area, a place that finds its heroes amongst the hardscrabble.

The San Francisco native kicks off a 12-date Northwest tour March 30 at Avalon Ballroom that will take him up to Montana before finishing in Oakland.

“How does Snow White got a star on the Hollywood Boulevard?” Gigz tweeted during a late night stroll on the famed Los Angeles avenue. “That bitch ain’t even real.” Since 2008, Roach, born Orlando Campbell, has tried to located his own star. He’s chartered a course through previously unnavigable waters—determined to emerge from a ferociously proud and independent rap scene into the limelight—on a stage historically shared by only a handful of enterprising Bay Area rappers, most of whom are now in their 40s, or dead. But where persistence and insistence were their moors, borne from schlepping trunk loads of mixtapes from show-to-show, Gigz put his schemes online.

Not that he could help it, or knew of a different option. With only a few mixtapes to his name, Gigz rode the Internet all the way to New York, appearing on MTV2, reviewed in the New York Times, and later, drunk onstage at Austin’s SXSW festival.

And then last year, something a little more interesting happened.

Toronto-based producer Jeremy Rose, very recently outed as the true architect of gothic R&B act The Weeknd, remixed a Roach Gigz song. Currently working under the name Zodiac, Rose walked away from his brooding brainchild because of creative differences with partner Abel Tesfaye, just weeks before rap superstar Drake would cosign the group, giving them, or rather just Tesfaye, the publicity of a lifetime. Given Rose’s success for both gauging and masterminding a new sound, his appreciation of Roach Gigz bodes well for the rapper’s chances at branching out of the Bay.

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