Album Review | Zilla Rocca – 96 Mentality

This album was released on May 21st this year. I’m pretty much going into this project completely blind. I’ve never heard a Zilla Rocca song before in my life, and I’m pretty sure I’ve only ever heard one verse from him. I liked the verse I heard from him though. It was on the remix of John Gotti by Sean Price & Small Professor. He did his thing on that track. Anyway, I obviously don’t have any expectations for this project since I’m not that familiar with Zilla Rocca. I don’t know how I feel about him because I just saw a tweet in which he was shitting on one of my favorite Nas albums. I’ll let it slide if this album is good though. I certainly don’t think it’ll be anywhere near as good as the album he was talking shit about, but I’m hoping I’ll still enjoy it to some extent. I certainly don’t think it’ll be wack. The reason I’m even checking this out in the first place is because someone recommended it to me. I’ll be disappointed if I end up hating it, but I doubt that’ll be the case.

1. Polished Figaro Intro featuring DJ Chong Wizard produced by SONNYJIM

This beat from SONNYJIM is pretty dope. I’m not familiar with that producer, but they did a good job with this track. This verse from Zilla Rocca is solid. Nothing about it really stands out that much to me though. I’m not crazy about his delivery. He just sounds like a random white dude I’d find on a college campus. Hmm… I hope I don’t end up regretting this. I’m not really into this track to be honest. The production was kinda cool, and I liked the scratches from DJ Chong Wizard. Zilla Rocca’s rapping didn’t really do much for me though. The production isn’t good enough to warrant any repeat listens for me. I think this track is decent. It’s certainly not bad at all. It just lacks replay value for me personally.

2. Paul Newman featuring PremRock produced by Disco Vietnam

I know I’ve seen this dude PremRock’s name before in the past, but I’ve never actually heard his music before. I really love this super dusty boom bap production from Disco Vietnam. It just sounds raw as hell. I could see DOOM spitting over this. In fact, Zilla Rocca is kinda reminding me of DOOM on the first verse. It’s his flow and delivery. That line about Lil Yachty turning a flute into a cello was dope. The way this song is mixed is kinda rough. The vocals aren’t loud enough. The beat almost overpowers them. It’s not too bad though. Zilla Rocca sounds really dope on this track. Both of his verses were dope. The final verse from PremRock was solid too. I think Zilla Rocca had the better performance personally though. It’s weird how much better he sounds on this track to me. He sounded awkward on the previous track, but on this one he sounds very comfortable. Again, it reminded me a lot of MF DOOM. I liked this song a lot. I might end up liking this album after all. This shit is dope.

3. Wynn Duffy produced by The Expert

The beat on this track is nice. Zilla Rocca doesn’t sound like DOOM to me on this track like he did on the previous one. He still sounds good though. I’m not really familiar with this Wynn Duffy character that the song is named after. The first verse on this track is nice. The outro was cool too. I don’t like this song quite as much as the previous one, but it’s still good. The beat’s dope, and Zilla Rocca’s verse was tight. I don’t really have any legitimate issues with it. It’s a good song. I fuck with it.

4. Eastbay Catalog featuring DJ Ambush produced by Disco Vietnam

I really like this Disco Vietnam guy. This beat is dope as hell. This is definitely my favorite beat so far. Zilla Rocca sounds nice over it too. The hook is cool. His verse was dope too. I also like the scratches from DJ Ambush a lot. There’s not a lot going on in this song. It’s got a pretty straightforward structure. It’s just one verse with a hook and some scratches. It’s all pretty well done though. I don’t have any issues with this one. The production is my favorite aspect of the song for sure, but Zilla Rocca & DJ Ambush did a good job too. This shit is dope.

5. Live from the Driver’s Seat produced by Dan Dillinger

This beat is solid. The hook on this track is okay. The first verse on this track is cool. His verse is following the same formula as the Still Enterlude from Clear Soul Forces’ latest album. It was a solid verse. I definitely prefer the second verse though. It was structured differently. It was a lot more interesting in my opinion. I generally don’t really like when artists start every line the same way. It’s not a huge issue though. There are exceptions where I really like it. Anyway, I think this is a solid track overall. Nothing about it really stands out that much to me, but I did enjoy it. It’s a pretty good song.

6. Agent Aloha produced by The Expert

This song has another one of the best beats on the album so far. The production is great. It almost sounds like something I’d hear in a James Bond movie. The first verse from Zilla Rocca is really dope too. The hook is cool. This is probably my favorite track so far. I really love this beat, and Zilla Rocca did his thing. It’s not an amazing song or anything, but I don’t have any actual complaints. I fuck with this song. It’s really dope.

7. Spy Vs. Spy featuring Vic Spencer produced by Ray West

This was the first single released from this album. I hadn’t heard it before hearing the full album though. The beat is awesome. Vic killed that first verse too. The hook is nothing special, but it gets the job done. The beat honestly got kinda old by the time the song ended. It’s very repetitive. I still like it though. The second verse from Zilla Rocca was pretty good. This is a pretty dope track. Again, it’s not amazing or anything, but I do think it’s one of the better songs on the album so far. It’s dope.

8. 2 Steps from Perfection performed by Grift Company produced by Zilla Rocca

I think this album is pretty good so far, but nothing about it really stands out that much to me. It’s not very memorable at all. Anyway, the beat on this track is really nice. I really like the hook on this track too, and Curly Castro did a great job with the first verse. I like the way the beat switches up for Zilla Rocca’s verse. The lyrics on this track are kinda funny too. This is definitely one of the best songs so far. It might actually be my favorite track so far. I’ll have to go back and listen to some of the other songs I really liked to decide which one’s my favorite. I liked that line Zilla Rocca had about how the dude refrained from dissing someone because “me and him might build.” Struggle rappers who say shit like that are lame as hell. Anyway, as I said before, this is one of the best songs so far. I really fuck with this one. It’s dope.

9. Read.Memorize.Burn. produced by Quandary

This beat is really great. This is another one of the best beats on the album in my opinion. I love it. The hook on this track is pretty simplistic. It gets the job done. There’s only one verse on this track, and it’s not bad. It’s not super impressive, but it’s fine. it’s sufficient. I enjoyed it. I’m definitely more impressed by the production on this track—although it is admittedly very repetitive—but Zilla Rocca did an okay job. Nothing about his performance really stands out to me much at all. None of the lines stuck with me, his flow was average, and his delivery was pretty conventional. He sounds fine though. It’s a listenable track. If for whatever reason the US government decided that it was illegal for anyone to listen to this track, I wouldn’t be too upset. I wouldn’t feel like I was missing much. With that said, it’s a solid enough song for me to not feel the need to delete it from my iTunes library. It’s good.

10. Iseminger Street produced by Floodwatch

The mixing on this track is really bad. It’s pretty obvious that the poor mixing is intentional though. It’s such a drastic decline in quality from the rest of the project. I’m just talking about the sound quality though. Not the quality of the music itself. The vocals are really buried in the mix. It’s kind of annoying because I feel like this’d be my favorite track so far if the mixing was better. This song easily has the most interesting content out of all the songs I’ve heard so far. I really wish his vocals weren’t muffled. He’s rapping to a girl that he was in a relationship with I guess. The way he’s doing it is really cool though. It’s not a boring Drake-esque love song. The way the beat switches up about halfway through the track is really dope. Oh fucking shit. The way the song ends is really dope. I wasn’t expecting it to get that heavy. Man… I really want to like this song. The mixing ruins it for me though. The mix sounds like shit. I like the production though, and it’s cool lyrically. It’s an okay song. I like it, but I can’t really enjoy it properly because of the shitty sound quality. I’m not gonna be coming back to it.

11. Operation: Lone Wolf produced by The Expert

The mixing is thankfully much better on this track. This beat is pretty cool. Damn. This song is short as hell. It’s just under a minute and a half long. Zilla Rocca did his thing on it though. This is a good track.

I’m comin’ with it
10 karat writtens with no blemish
I turned off Rap City when they played No Limit

He’s kinda just rapping about being an oldhead at heart. I feel like the track ends a little abruptly, but it’s not too bad. I like this song. It’s not one of my favorites, but the beat was nice, and Zilla Rocca rapped well over it. This is another good one.

12. City Boy / City Man produced by DJ Manipulator

This beat is pretty hard. This is one of the longest songs on the album. In fact, the final three tracks of this album are longer than pretty much all the tracks that precede it. That’s not saying much though. The longest song on this album is just over four minutes long. Most of the tracks are about two minutes long. He said he didn’t spend as much time making this album as he usually does, so that’s probably why a lot of the songs are short. Anyway, the first verse on this track is cool as hell. It’s clear from this album that Zilla Rocca is one of those stereotypical East Coast Hip Hop purists, despite his Nas comments. He has a line in this track where he says he played Cappadonna to his son when he was a toddler. The hook on this track is nothing special, but it works. Hmm… I know I haven’t really said anything negative about this track, but I honestly don’t know how I feel about it. It’s not bad, but I really don’t see myself coming back to this one. It’s just kinda stale to me. Nothing about it really stands out. I liked the beat at first, but it gets old quickly. Nothing Zilla Rocca said actually stood out to me either, and his flow and delivery weren’t anything special. It’s an okay song, but it lacks replay value for me. It’s a little boring to be honest. I won’t be listening to it again.

13. Long-Winded Philly Shit featuring iAlive & Yikes the Zero produced by Jason Griff

I’m not familiar with either of the features on this track, so I won’t be able to say who each verse is performed by. I’m just gonna assume that they’re listed in order of appearance, so that’s probably iAlive on the first verse. I like his flow, and this beat is actually awesome. This is definitely one of the best beats on the album. Huh. That’s funny. I think iAlive said something about Morning Glory seeds. One of my friends in college tried those seeds out. I can’t remember if they actually worked for him. All I know is that they made his stomach hurt really bad. It was funny to me. Anyway, I liked iAlive’s verse a lot. That dude’s dope. His flow was great. I might have to look into more of his work because he impressed me. Zilla Rocca’s on the second verse. Man, I really wish there were more gritty beats like this on the rest of the album. iAlive came back in to spit another verse after Zilla Rocca was done. He kinda stole the show to be honest. Zilla Rocca came back in one more time after iAlive’s second verse. Hmm… Apparently Yikes is on the penultimate verse. His voice is super similar to that of iAlive though. I thought it was the same person at first. It’s really hard for me to believe it’s a different dude to be honest. He did his thing though. I liked his verse. Zilla Rocca starts going in again at the end of the song, but his voice fades out. Anyway, this is easily one of the best songs on the album. I really like the beat, and the features were impressive too. I fuck with this track. It’s dope.

14. Album Release Party at the Water Room produced by Zilla Rocca

This beat is actually pretty nice. I was worried at first when I was listening to that long winded intro, but once the beat finally drops it’s dope. This is the longest song on the album. Zilla Rocca’s flow is cool on this track. I really like the way he sounds here. This is one of the better songs on the album in my opinion. I think it definitely could’ve been shortened, but I don’t really have any major issues with it. That’s why I don’t have much to say about it. His flow was nice, and I liked the production. It’s not amazing or anything, but I like it a lot. This is dope.

This album is kinda good. It’s far from “amazing” or even “great,” but I did enjoy it. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t more impressed by the features and production than Zilla Rocca himself. He’s not a bad MC, but he just doesn’t really stand out much to me. He’s just another one of those typical East Coast purist rappers who doesn’t really have a unique sound or style. This isn’t a memorable project. He’s not doing what he does much better than any other East Coast MC. I can tell this is gonna fly under the radar for a lot of people, and I can’t really say that they’re missing out on much. It’s pretty conventional stuff. It’s not bad at all though. I don’t think there’s a single wack song here. Again, I did enjoy it overall. It felt way longer than it actually is though. It’s just under forty minutes, but it felt long to me. It’s a dry ass album. If you mainly listen to melodic Hip Hop with a lot of Trap production, you’ll hate this. If you don’t care for boom-bap or lo-fi production, steer clear. I like this one though. It’s a good album. I don’t know if I’d be excited for another album from this guy though. I’ll definitely check out an EP or a single. A full album might take some convincing though. It’ll depend on the length and whether or not I heard some singles from it that I actually enjoyed. This is good though. I don’t want my criticism to discourage anyone from giving it a chance. It’s not bad at all. It’s just not very memorable. Again, he’s not trying to push the envelope. It’s very conventional, traditional stuff. I enjoyed it though. This is a good project.

Favorite Song: Long-Winded Philly Shit
Least Favorite Song: City Boy / City Man


Grade: B-

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