MC Carl Roe is an interesting entrant to the Seattle rap scene. A native of Elgin, Illinois, a conflicted youth in the Midwest followed by an enlistment and tour of duty in Iraq as a U.S. Army Infantryman is the path Roe followed before his arrival in Seattle, where he is now a hopeful and hustling artist in the local hip-hop scene.
206UP.COM became familiar with Roe back in January in the second edition of The TrackMeet (click here for that post). His winning entry, “Lock it Down, Sew it Up,” was a frantic double-time composition paired with boasts by the MC of his superior rap skills. After getting past the beat, which had a fairly dated feel, a hungry rapper with a very natural flow and knack for maneuvering complicated rhyme patterns was revealed.
The Broken Time Machine is Carl Roe’s official entry into the Seattle hip-hop landscape. It’s eight tracks long and has an old-school feel, with big beats and breaks, a few overwrought rock flourishes and Roe’s signature double-time. “Stuntman” (the previously-released single featuring J. Bre, another up-and-coming Town MC) is the best track, a commanding declaration of the two rapper’s dominance over their lesser competition, or “stuntmen” as they call them.
“The voice of the Army Infantry in hip-hop,” as Roe claims in his bio, his stint in the Army informs the lyrical foundation of TBTM. Deeply affected by his Iraq war experience, the MC is unashamed of allowing his music to act as an outlet for his anguish, especially on the emotive “We Own the Night” which has an Evanescence-like quality (for better or worse).
It’s a safe bet Carl Roe’s style will not resonate with everyone. His flow and beat choice operate at-odds with contemporary hip-hop, and of course there will be the requisite criticisms centered around his skin color. No matter. What Seattle has in this artist is an MC focused intently on the craft and how his particular life experience fits in to it. In hip-hop, that’s all you can really ask for.