The Roc Nation machine is positioning themselves to be the only entity on the radio, already equipped with pop stars like Rihanna and pure hip-hop acts like J-Cole and Jay Electronica. Last night’s showcase at SOB’s featuring the lovely Rita Ora and potential Roc Nation signee, Casey Veggies, was a realization of things to come. The small venue was packed with industry heavyweights like Sylvia Rhone, Steve Rifkind, amongst rumors of a possible Jay-z appearance (didn’t happen). Along with the industry folks was a peppered crowd of hipsters, hip-hoppers, and bonafide pop fans, two-thirds of which seemed to be anxiously awaiting Rita Ora’s first showcase in New York City. Both Ora and Veggies display a great amount of maturity and potential to experience great mainstream success.
Before the set, Young Guru, the mastermind behind the boards for albums like The Blueprint and The Black Album ran through a selection of Rocafella hits and the soul songs that were their predecessors. It was hip-hop porn for fans of the dynasty that existed on the radio from the 90’s to the first half of the 00’s. The crowd sang along as Young Guru mixed tracks like Freeway’s “What We Do” to Kanye West’s “ I Wonder.” It was clear he was setting up for a potential visit from King Jay-Hova.
Casey Veggies, who opened this very stage for Dom Kennedy over a year ago, has propelled to a new height in his career with his new tape Customized Greatly Vol. 3. This showcase was the perfect way to introduce Veggies to a crowd filled with pop fans eager to see the next rising star. He performed on stage with a lot of energy, backed by his manager Joshton Peas. Different members of their crew were decked out in limited merch pieces that bore the army flavored Peas N Carrots trademark.
Veggies and his crew are having the time of their lives emulating a young Rocafella Records. Before the show, Veggies talked about his meeting with Jay-z saying, “ I know Jay-z can tell that we humble kids and we doing great things. We probably remind him of himself when he was younger.” They ran through a bevy of his songs. The crowd, mostly new to young Veggies, was very receptive to his opening performance of “Ridin’ Round Town,” which included two cute violinists, Charly and Margux. After a successful tour with Mac Miller, he’s become more seasoned of a performer. He also brought out up and comer Rockie Fresh, who’s collaborative single with Casey Veggies, “Driving 88,” is a banger. The two traded victorious flows over the thumping instrumental.
After a memorable performance from Veggies, all eyes honed in on the jaw-dropping Rita Ora. The young vixen, who signed quietly to Roc Nation in 2009, appeared in an electric blue motorcycle jacket and black leggings paired with a neon orange skully and Jordans. Her London accent was pretty thick, but it wasn’t hard to understand her when she did justice to a cover of Jill Scotts “He Loves Me.” She also performed “RIP,” an awesome track penned by Drake. The crowd’s response was filled with habitual, “I Love You’s” and screams from the front row. In between songs she thanked the crowd saying, “ You guys just welcome me with open fucking hands.” She was comfortable on stage, in her own skin and aware of her sexiness. The diverse set made it hard to box her in as simply a pop artist. Later in the show before it ended, she grabbed a Coogi sweater from behind the drummer set. Paying homage to Biggie, she put the oversized sweater on and began to perform her song “ How We Do (Party)” which borrows its familiar refrain from Biggie’s “Party & Bullshit”. With Rita Ora’s single “RIP” in tow, and her sensual voice and sex appeal on deck she’s already striving past Rihanna’s humble beginnings. Fans left the show enthused, ready for another chapter in the Roc Nation saga.