When Cocca released her third mixtape, “Vincent,” two things caught my attention: her form and the title. On other photographs of her, Cocca always wore baggier, tomboy clothes with a snapback. As you can see, she’s behind the letters on the cover with form fitting pants and a jacket pulled forward to accentuate the bottom part of the “S curve.” That she called it “Vincent” with that imagery is an interesting play in gender visuals. Cocca plays with expectations differently on “Vincent” than she’s done before, with good results.
On her last release, “Halo”, Cocca and her longtime producer, Lil Jiyeon, took a faster paced approach to hip-hop for the most part, with tracks that felt rushed. The problem was in Cocca’s style; the girl isn’t a speed demon or known for double-time deliveries. Much like The Quiett, Cocca is better when she takes her time. The dynamic in “Halo” left me wanting for something smoother, more akin to “Divin,” but with less creepy sex scenarios. This new mixtape corrects that, opting for slower wide open soundscapes.
This set is big on atmospherics, with every track starting with a spare and menacing introduction, led by the first cut, “10grade”. This number sets the stage for “Vincent;” bass-heavy mid-tempos that are all about being on top. Where “Halo” was brash, “Vincent,” and in particular “Rumpumpum,” have a laidback, sit-on-my-Mercedes swagger. She may not go fast, but when she sings the hook to “Rumpumpum,” you know she’s not singing Christmas carols.
This combination of measured pacing and hard lyrics is what makes “Vincent” a cohesive set. The one downfall is its one message: Cocca’s the best and watch yourself if you think otherwise. On the high art-themed “Goguin”, she alludes to last year’s rap feuds without naming names, but just calling all of them collectively as “bitches.” At 17 minutes long, however, the concept doesn’t lose steam, and Cocca is as cocky in “10grade” as she sounds aspiring in “Adored.”
Lil Jiyeon, for her part, deserves praise for her work on the beats. On “Goguin,” the beats progress just enough to be dynamic, but hold back to let Cocca own the track. The best example of Lil Jiyeon’s production style for “Vincent” is the outro, “Adored,” a short piano piece that’s both impersonal and intimate. The only time Cocca drowns in the production, Lil Jiyeon’s clutter is at first off putting, but forces you to focus on the words, that swear to never sell out. Whether she’ll remain independent only time will tell, but Cocca on this mixtape makes a strong case for being on top of the underground rapstress game, no matter how many times she makes that point.
Cocca has a hard edge to her voice. Rough in texture and calculated in tempo, she harkens back to 90’s gangster rap, not joining everyone else in the flash speed rap trend so popular in k-hip-hop. For “Vincent”, Cocca and Lil Jiyeon make spacious hip-hop, an open stage with just them on it. It isn’t original, I know, but Cocca owns the I’ll-cut-you-down persona, from the first bars of “10grade” and the violence of “Rumpumpum”. This mixtape has a strong set of songs, and makes a standout release for 2014.