Roc & Yella say they are humbly charting their course in a competitive and fickle rap industry by keeping their Orangeburg roots close and their “haters” closer.
Justin Glover, aka “Roc,” and his cousin, Brian Raines, aka “Yella,” of Orangeburg are up-and-coming rappers, but they’d rather just see themselves as rock stars who want to make feel-good music using all types of music genres.
“We love every type of music there is. I’d say what sets us apart, period, from any group in the world is we’re just very confident. We’re not scared to take on a new challenge as far as trying this type of music, or that type of music,” Glover said.
“We’re open-minded when it comes to music, and the best thing about being in the group is Yella inspires me to go harder. If I come on a song and don’t give it my all, he’ll let me know and I’ll do the same thing for him,” he said.
Glover added, “We take our music very seriously, and we also remember to have fun while we do it. We just bring a lot of good energy.”
Raines said, “I’d have to say my voice is very different. You know, my voice is like an instrument. It’s has a different, unique sound – both of us, really. So that’s why we come together great on a song. That’s just what it is, and we’re very versatile.”
Perhaps it is that versatility, energizing sound and youthful appeal that propelled the duo to snag two honors during the South Carolina Music Awards held July 23 in Columbia, including Album of the Year and Group/Duo of the Year.
‘It was a blessing’
Glover is the son of Sheryl Eaton and Kenneth Glover. His stepmother is Orangeburg County Probate Judge Pandora Jones-Glover. Raines is the son of Juneau “Mimi” Raines.
The cousins said their achievement at the S.C. Music Awards was shocking, but they are thankful that all the hard work they have put into music is paying off.
Raines said, “It was a big blessing, being from Orangeburg at that. Nobody ever did it from there, and then we’re coming as the youngest to do it. That was a big blessing and accomplishment for us.”
Glover said, “I was speechless at that moment because all the work we put in was finally starting to pay off. We’ve been doing this since we were 12. That was our third or fourth year being nominated at the South Carolina Music Awards, but that was our first year winning. We won two awards, so it was definitely mind blowing.”
The two divide time between Atlanta and their hometown of Orangeburg.
“Ain’t No Loyalty” is the duo’s first album, which is out now. DJ Burn is executive producer of the project, which is narrated by DJ B-Lord.
“Trust No More” is a recently released single from the album and features the vocals of singer Candice Mims. The video for the song is playing nationally on BETJams and MTVJams networks.
Glover said the single is actually one of 15 songs on the album and “the third official single that we’re promoting right now.”
He said R&B artist and songwriter Rell, a Bowman native who was the first male R&B singer to sign to former New York-based Roc-A-Fella Records, is also featured on two of the album’s songs.
Raines said having the music video for “Trust No More” featured on national networks has been another mind-blowing experience for him and his cousin.
“Everybody coming at you now with, “You on BET.’ It was hard to get at first. It was overwhelming and when it finally hit me, I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m on TV now.’ That’s been something I wanted to do since I was little. I was looking at people and saying, ‘I can’t wait ‘til I get there,’ and I finally did it,” he said.
Glover said “Trust No More” describes a relationship plagued by trust issues and how to overcome them. He said while the duo knew their video was confirmed to appear on BETJams, it was no less shocking when they actually saw it on TV.
“When I saw it hit the screen, it was like I couldn’t say anything. I was just like, ‘Man, we worked so hard.’ We dreamed of this since we started and everything is finally starting to fall into place,” Glover said, noting that he and his cousin’s family and peers were equally stunned when they saw their video on TV.
“You would think that they were on TV because, like I said, we speak from more than one point of view. Everybody around us and our environment is really the story behind everything that we do because we didn’t experience everything,” Glover said.
“I had family in Maryland, old friends from college and girlfriends from middle school say, ‘We see you on BET.’ Everybody was just happy for us,” he said.
Glover and Raines were inspired to continue their music pursuits following the murder of their older cousin, Stephen “Dirty Redd” Raines, who had produced music of his own.
Glover said, “When he died in 2006, we saw how everybody loved him for music. He used to get a lot of attention from women, and we always knew we wanted to do something that involves attention. We started off playing sports like basketball but when he was murdered, we really wanted to jump in his shoes and just go.”
“We wanted to take on his dream,” Raines said.
‘You’ve got to humble yourself down’
Raines, who said his mother gave him the nickname “Yella” as a child because of his skin complexion, said he has enjoyed the venues that he and his cousin have been able to perform in, especially a performance at the House of Blues.
“I had seen the most energy ever there, and it was created off of us. Some people don’t know you from a can of paint, but you see their energy. So it’s like we’re feeding off of each other, and that created a whole combustion. I really love that,” Raines said.
Glover said, “There was also more than one ethnic group there. We saw all different races, and it’s like everybody agreed on music. No matter what color, shape of size you are, everybody loves music. So when we came out, we came out string. We would have done cartwheels if we could.”
Glover said his nickname came from his sister’s ex-boyfriend.
“I got the name J-Roc from him. I was probably in the first grade, but I changed it up a little bit to Roc Montana because I used to love watching ‘Scarface,” and I knew I wanted to be a boss like Tony Montana,” he said.
The group has performed shows alongside rap artists such as Kevin Gates, Yo Gotti, Lil Boosie, Young Scooter, Trick Daddy and others, but their first paid performance was at Sheridan Elementary School in Orangeburg.
The crowd was just as fierce there as any other show.
“That’s the only show that we were nervous at. It took us 30 minutes to leave the school,” Glover said, smiling.
He said sharing a stage with rapper Young Thug, however, was the first time he was actually “star struck.”
“He’s like one of the biggest artists out right now. It’s just the energy and the vibes of his music. It put me in a good place and when we did the show at the Southern Heat Music Festival, he was one of the artists we opened for.
“When he came out, it was kind of inspiring for me from the way he was walking to the way he said this or that, to the way he did a move from a video,” Glover said.
Raines said he would one day like to perform with the rapper Drake.
“He’s got so much energy, and then he has the crowd participate as well. And then most of the time he don’t have to rap his lyrics. Everybody knows them. That’s showing me what I should do better and what I can accomplish,” he said.
The duo said they won’t be able to accomplish anything, however, without the right attitude and said they would be open to speaking to local youth about good character and its importance in life.
They said they realize they don’t look like the typical rappers and shun arrogance and rudeness.
“I have been through too much to be that type of person. You got to humble yourself down. God can take things away at any time,” said Raines, who said the key to success in the music industry is staying “consistent, humble and focused.”
“Do your job. Work hard and believe in God. Just keep your faith in him. I’d have to say thanks to the fans that support us, my family and the haters, as well,” he said.“You gotta take it one day at a time and one step at a time.”
Glover said, “It’s still fun because we love it, but it’s a definitely a real job. I would say don’t let your surroundings determine your destination. We all come from different backgrounds, but that don’t stop everybody.”
He said anything is possible if a person keeps God first and surrounds themselves with like-minded people who want to see them do good.
“It’s like everybody wanna be first instead of everybody just staying in their position and saying, ‘I help you and you help me.’ That way, we all can prosper at some point and time,” Glover said.
Raines said, “That’s what you call a community.”
The group is managed by Atlanta,Georgia-based LiteHouse Management and more information on upcoming shows and the group’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media accounts can be found online at http://rocandyella.com/