September 01, 2007

Roc of All Trades

By Lauren Vislocky

The multi-talented LROC sees his most successful year as a sign of more to come


James Elbert Philips aka LRoc

"If I wasn't producing, I would have a real estate business. But I really can't see myself doing anything else but music," says West African producer, writer, programmer and multi-instrumentalist LRoc. And with hit songs such as "Yeah," "Grillz" and "Pullin' Me Back," it seems that he won't have to worry about any real estate except his own. LRoc has formed a comfortable niche for himself in the music industry. This year alone he received a Grammy and several ASCAP Pop Music and Rhythm & Soul awards and his publishing company Basajamba became extremely popular with music lovers and radio listeners from around the world.

LRoc, born James Elbert Philips, was interested in music from the age of five when he started to play classical piano. "I was getting trained but at the same time I was listening to my brother's records and my dad's records and playing by ear also," he recalls. He would often play the bass-line of songs he heard on the radio on his brother's guitar, and in a Christmas program at school when he was a teenager, he performed in every segment and played a different instrument in each one. At sixteen, LRoc moved to the Bay Area of California where he continued his interest in music playing in a jazz band as he was introduced to the styles of big band and swing.

After school, LRoc joined the United States army and was stationed in Germany. Bringing his keyboard along with him, LRoc wrote and produced artists while he was in Germany, eventually leaving the army to start working on early Lil' Jon remixes.

LRoc moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he met platinum producer and So So Def Records owner Jermaine Dupri. Dupri brought LRoc on as a keyboardist for one project, and was soon asking him to join So So Def's production roster. LRoc was given an exclusive deal which still allowed him to work with Lil' Jon. Said LRoc, "The difference with Jermaine is we cut whole records when we go to work. With Lil' Jon we do a whole lot of tracks and then he places them with artists and wherever. They're both different but they're both a lot of fun."

LRoc continues to add credits to his name. He has been working with So So Def artists such as Cute Kid, Manage Man, Maestro and Javas, and he recently worked on a track with Diana Degarmo from American Idol. With so much achievement in his career, it seems as though it would become ordinary to LRoc, but the opposite is true. "Don't get me wrong, when you hear the songs all the time and see the charts, it gets numb after awhile, but it's still exciting."