Carl Roe - Ones & Zeroes front

Carl Roe - Ones & Zeroes back

If memory serves, 206UP was one of the first (if not the first) local website to feature a piece of rapper/producer/sound engineer Carl Roe’s music (that would be this internet-ancient episode of 206UP’s The TrackMeet — remember those?). Carl won that contest and, in his estimation, has been proverbially winning ever since.

Ones and Zeroes is his debut full length album and, as the album cover illustrates, it’s the sprawling portrait of an MC weathered by a hard life: Roe is an Iraq war veteran with a childhood that was far from sunny. Hardscrabble lyricism abounds on Ones and Zeroes, with bars reserved for dismissive bloggers, talent bookers and short-sighted musical peers (see: “No No,” “Ones and Zeroes”). But there’s also a well-woven autobiographical narrative (“Eye For An I,” “The River”) that likely informs the darkness found elsewhere on the album: the unsettling killer’s fantasy “Murder On The Clock” and paranoid, pro-Second Amendment “Fire Sale”).

The boom-bap production is parts soulful and rugged, matching subject matter, and beat credits include Brainstorm, DJ Semaj, Randy Ross, and Trox. Roe also enlists a bunker of loyal MC lieutenants including frequent collaborators Ripynt and Produktive. Ones and Zeroes is probably two or three tracks too long, but by far represents Carl Roe’s best work to date.

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