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Posted on Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 5:55 a.m.

Rapper Bedroxx releasing 'FIRE' at the Blind Pig

By Jennifer Eberbach

Bedroxx FIRE album cover.jpg
Local rapper Bedroxx, also known as Blind Pig promoter Zach Tocco, makes the release of his third independent album, FIRE, a true local affair. He has invited a pile of area hip-hop artists to open his album release party at the Blind Pig, on Jan. 20.

Duke Newcomb, Nickie P, Kolorblind, Dick Jones, and The Proving Ground Band (Bedroxx’s collaborative project) will perform. The show is one of the "Make It Happen" parties he helps throw.

The $8 cover scores attendees a free copy of his new CD.

“It’s definitely an intentional lineup. In general, these are all people I see working extremely hard at fine tuning and progressing their craft, and they are kind of in the same boat as I am,” Tocco says.

One of the sources from which he draws inspiration is literature. “The number one inspiration for both the concept of the album 'Fire' and the title itself is James Baldwin’s 'The Fire Next Time.' When I read it I was inspired to take what I got out of it and move it into my medium of expression. I tried to replicate Baldwin’s message of self-reliance,” he explains.

“You can take fire and use it to your benefit, warm yourself, cook your food, and provide illumination, or you can use it to be destructive. I was feeling those polar opposites during the time I was making the album,” he says of the album’s title.

Bedroxx performing.jpg
Tocco has been performing since he was a high school student in Kalamazoo, circa 2000. His earliest interest was guitar, but he put that aside for a set of turntables and started performing in freestyle rap battles on a local public-access show. “That’s when I got the gumption to stop rapping in front of a mirror and take it out for public view,” he remembers.

One day, as a college student at Western Michigan University, Tocco ran into high school friend Joe Taylor. Taylor had set up a recording studio in his apartment, and the pair laid down their first track together, "Black Rose." The song made it on to his first album, "Inwords," which the friends produced in 2004. A second album, "Grow," came out of the collaboration in 2007. Tocco flew out to L.A., where Taylor now lives, to record vocals and produce three tracks on "FIRE."

For the first time, Tocco commissioned additional artists to produce beats to back up his lyrics. Ultimately, the diversity of beats from different artists produced a diverse sounding CD. A-Bomb, Mogi Brumbles, Satta Don Dada, Neo Judas helped produce the album, Duke Newcomb appears on the track “Inter,” and the album’s artwork is by Nate Higley and Tavi Veraldi.



  • Who: Local rapper. Also with Duke Newcomb, Nickie P, Kolorblind, Dick Jones, and The Proving Ground Band.
  • What: Album release party.
  • Where: Blind Pig, 208 S. First St.
  • When: Friday, Jan. 20. Doors at 9:30 p.m.
  • How much: $8 (includes copy of the CD).
Doing promotions at the Bling Pig and performing at other venues in town gives Tocco a unique insider’s perspective on the qualities of Ann Arbor’s live music scene. He shares some of his opinions about Ann Arbor’s strengths and weaknesses.

“It’s a perfect scene if you’re already known,” he says. “Once you’ve broken through, it’s one of the best places in the country to get exposure. The number one asset we have is high quality clubs—The Blind Pig, The Ark, Necto, and other world class venues right in your backyard.”

However, Ann Arbor’s scene has its limitations, according to Tocco: “It’s extremely difficult to break through to the next level as a local artist. There is so much talent here, but it seems to always be stewing.”

“I think the majority of the population turning over every four years, as U-M students leave after graduation, makes it difficult. It takes years for an artist to appeal to the masses. Even though, yes, the students will catch on, there’s not enough time from them to really sop you up before they move on to their next destination. Local artists don’t always get the full attention of the student population, like they need to,” Tocco suggests.

For better or for worse, Tocco is committed to making a career in music in Michigan, even if it is challenging to break through. “I derive a lot of pleasure from operating in the Michigan music scene both as an artist and a promoter. Although I’ve had a few offers to leave, I wouldn’t think of it,” he says.

“Since reading'The Fire Next Time,' I’ve kind of been living by this mantra from Baldwin’s opening letter to his nephew, “...For this is your home, my friend. Do not be driven from it. Great men have done great things here and will again,” a quote that appears on the inside cover of 'FIRE,' he explains.


Teenuh T

Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 7:56 p.m.

Bedroxx is a real treat to the auditory system! I like the buy local, stay local, perform local message. So many people are trying to escape Michigan meanwhile talented people like Tocco and his musical associates are putting Michigan on the map. Big props to him and best of luck at the CD release show.

Ron Granger

Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 4:18 p.m.

Time to get my grill out and do some polishin.