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Roach Gigz Brings New Life to Bay Rap Scene

In Clubs, Music

Roach obviates manufacturing any cheap attention. Young as he is, he’s opinionated, but business savvy. He says the “Bay is in a really good place right now,” with “people acting like a team.” That the team’s star players parse out their own weirdness to dubious acclaim doesn’t warrant much comment from him. I’m thinking of lovable oddballs like Lil B, or labelmate Kreayshawn, who Roach met during the filming of his first video. He is suspiciously foggy about their first encounter.

“She filmed my first video? Oh, yeah. That’s right. That was before ‘Gucci, Gucci,’ though,” he says as if to suggest that their meeting was purely incidental. I ask if we can expect a musical collaboration, a question to which he displays his diplomatic flair, saying that “she’s a cool person,” but he doesn’t “feel that [they] do the same thing.” Instead he muses that “she’s getting a lot of hate, so you know she’s doing something right.”

And yet, he’s also doing something right, and not receiving any flack for it. Raised by a single mother and abandoned by his father, a Nicaraguan immigrant with ties to Sandinista guerillas, Roach’s trajectory has been smooth sailing. The first I noticed when I watched his videos was that he’s white. Roach says I’m alone on this. “It’s never been brought up to my face. I know people from the outside are saying stuff, but it’s not an issue,” he says.

He’s very much the product of his generation, having gleamed a workhorse ethic from Lil Wayne, his biggest influence outside the Bay.

“Wayne definitely made me want to step up my abilities,” Gigz says “Back in the day, he had a piece in XXL called ‘How to be a Better Rapper,’ that had practical advice about training to rap, like a basketball player, and never leaving it alone. I wish I still had that today, like a poster.”

The nickname “Roach” was inspired by the stoner sidekick character of the same name from 2000’s Next Friday, played by the late Justin Pierce of Kids fame. The similarity ends there. Despite his impulsive, hard-partying persona, Roach the rapper is hard at work—he does have more than one mouth to feed.

“Having a son was the most beautiful thing in the world, man. I don’t even really like to go out anymore,” he says, reflecting on the influence of his year-old son. It seems that, like in the case of all great entertainers, Roach Gigz has realized he’s becoming a product, and he might need to grow up fast. But his audience doesn’t. If and when he decides to ditch the alter ego, it’s anyone’s guess if they’ll follow.

Roach Gigz performs at Avalon on March 30. Tickets are $12 and the show starts at 8pm. More info.

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