Zilla Rocca has pioneered a gravelly subgenre of hip hop, both as an emcee and producer, called “Noir Hop”. Drawing influences from dive bars, dangerous dames, dime store detectives, and old pulp rags, Zilla’s music is equally progressive, unpredictable, and intoxicating. His prominent string of releases includes 2013’s Neo Noir mixtape and Weak Stomach EP from the Shadowboxers, 2012’s Party With Villains EP and Wrecking Crew Presents: Wu-Tang Pulp, 2011’s Nights & Weekends EP and 2009’s introduction to The Shadowboxers The Slow Twilight. Zilla Rocca’s work has been featured in Complex, HipHopDX, Okayplayer, Passion of the Weiss and many others. Touring has seen him travel coast to coast from Los Angeles to New York while laying his head down in Philadelphia.
The sonic identity stitching together Zilla Rocca’s grizzled imagery is as important a character to the album’s story as the revolving collective of misfits that populate the world of No Vacation For Murder. To achieve that identity, Zilla handpicked a revolving cast dubbed The Shadowboxers who flesh out a detailed landscape; because it’s a stylized collective, the cohesion is never sacrificed.
The most pervasive plot line throughout the LP is revenge. Being consumed with designs on reprisal, Zilla outlines a slow and costly descent into destructive cycles, fruitless violence, unintended loss, obsession and bleak murder fantasies. Even though the air is thick with tension, the ethos is fiercely rooted at the center. A Hollywood ending is not in the cards. What is in the cards is rum-like clarity at the end of a razor blade highway: personal revelations mean nothing within a city that never ceases to snatch bodies.
The soundtrack to this hardboiled “Noir-Hop” universe is largely handled by Blurry Drones. Responsible for producing the first Shadowboxers album in its entirety, his musical choices are decidedly more sinister, lo-fi, and rock-oriented this go-round. Producer Floodwatch hops into the fray with the impulsive “Hot Head Freddy” and the airy internalized”Stainless Wisdom.”ST/MiC tackles the vulnerable long goodbye of “Wishing You Asleep”. Fellow Wrecking Crew member and frequent collaborator Has-Lo builds a pipe bomb on “Young Blood”: relentless drums, shrieking guitars, and a steely-eyed guest shot from Roc Marciano. Has-Lo pulls double duty rapping on both “Shoot The Piano Player” and “47 Ronin” alongside Curly Castro of Wrecking Crew/Man Bites Dog Records. Other notable guest shots include Open Mike Eagle crooning on “Human Dominos” and Camp Lo’s Geechi Suede on the barrel blasting anthem “Chi-Town Drumroll.”