GEN F: Roach Gigz

Photographer Ariel Zambelich
January 27, 2011

After a dry spell and several months moping about it, a couple things happened in Roach Gigz’ life that got him back to rapping. First, he totaled his scraper and had to cop a shitty replacement to get around. "I ended up buying a bucket from my cousin for a hundred dollars, a really messed up car," he says. Second, Gigz' girl got pregnant. Hence, his mixtape Buckets and Booty Callz, a tightly wound memoir by a dude whose hardgoing party lifestyle began before he had hair on his face, and whose tales read like new era Salinger: Middle school, 'member?/ I was the wild child/ Orlando had a temper/ I used to take sluts to the cuts with my cousin/ And the parties with the hoes/ Freaking bitches on the flo'/ 'Til the teachers told me no.

Before Gigz gave up his black book to become papa Roach at 21, he was just an Oakland dude nicknamed after the weed-huffing white boy from Next Friday, his scratchy throat grizzled from teenage herb indulgence. By 17, he and his best friend Lil4Tay (Bay vet Rappin 4Tay's son) had cranked out a handful of teen hits like "Bitch I Go" and "I Get It," tracks where Gigz croaks his verses over bedroom beats made in the apartment the two shared after he moved out of his mom's. The pair was prolific and crazily energetic, rapping about subject matter far beyond their years, like baby-faced Blowflys. "I won most flirtatious in sixth grade and I lost my virginity in seventh grade," Gigz says. "I didn't know what I was doing…but I knew I was doing something."

Now that the kid's grown up and has one of his own, he doesn't really party anymore, though you wouldn't know it listening to his songs. Roachy Balboa 2, his latest mixtape, is on the same booze-and-babes tip as before, but Gigz is currently in the throes of full transformation: a leaner rapper with a sharper flow and a keener determination now that he's got mouths to feed. "When people say having a kid changes your really changes your life," he says. "I mean, there's so much more to live for, so much more reason to succeed. I'm just trying to be a good dad." Part of being a good dad means providing, and to do that, Gigz hopes his first actual album, Therapy Sessions, will afford his baby expensive diapers and himself an automotive upgrade.

Stream: Roach Gigz, Roachy Balboa 2

GEN F: Roach Gigz