Roc ‘C' All Questions Answered

If having the Stones Throw insignia planted on the back of a jewel case nearly guarantees that discerning hip-hop fans are going to give a listen, it also nearly guarantees the burden of high — and specific — expectations. Artists like Madlib, MF Doom, Peanut Butter Wolf, J Dilla or the Lootpack (yeah, there’s some overlap there) have blazed trails off the beaten path, occasionally revelling in the obscure and esoteric or at least causing head-scratching in proportion with head-nodding. As such, one can’t help but feel like All Questions Answered, the debut LP from the label’s most buzz-worthy rookie Roc ‘C’, just sounds a little too normal. Roc ‘C’ stands out from his label-mates with his harder-edged street-grounded rhymes, complemented by his gravely voice and varied flow. What is less varied, however, is his lyrics. Roc ‘C’ hits hardest when he aims for gut-punch autobiography, but the songs about women are dull, unoriginal and, often, mean-spirited, while the battle raps suffer from a lack of memorable punch lines. The production, mostly provided by Oh No, is eclectic but traditional — think Madlib-lite — but does little to distinguish a solid debut album that falls short of unfair, but inevitable, expectations. (Stones Throw)