Sick lines and the stories behind the rhymes: Rooke5 breaks down some of his best lyrics
Rooke5 (aka Luke Whitrock) grew up in Loveland and Greeley, but he moved to El Paso, Texas, in the middle of high school. Though he has a self-described "southern twinge" to his personality and cites Kanye West as an influence (who isn't influenced by the omnipotent Yeezy), lyrically, he is far more attracted to the likes of Murs, Macklemore and Aesop Rock than Paul Wall, Mike Jones or even the Geto Boys. Musically, Whitrock admires Curtis Mayfield and Al Green, which shows in his taste for soulful production -- he hopes to eventually push boundaries in the way that one of his favorite musicians, the Weeknd, is doing now. With his new album Colossal Chronicles, whose release is being celebrated this Sunday at Cervantes', Rooke5 certainly pushes boundaries, but not in the ways you might think.
Colossal Chronicles is a journey into alternate realities and personas, the details of which are sometimes so intricately constructed, it is difficult to grasp exactly what's happening even after multiple listens. "Clockwork" sets the stage for the album, asking the question, "What would you do with a day that existed outside of regular time? Would you do something extraordinary?" Rooke5's extra day is spent fulfilling fantasies of storming castles, re-imagining Norwegian folklore in "Illy Goat" and watching the world burn -- a la the Joker from The Dark Knight -- in "Rise."
Rooke5's world of usually dense, often abstract metaphor and allegory is difficult to infiltrate and understand at times, but the moments of lucidity are rewarding, and as such, Colossal Chronicles is an album that yields in accordance with the attention paid to it, a testament to its detail and coherence as a whole in an industry dominated by the single. We took some time to discuss some choice lyrics from "Clockwork" with Rooke5 to try to understand the fantastic world in which Colossal Chronicles exists.
On the sixty first minute of every passing hour,
I sit here, deliberate, wonder where the power comes
from, as the second hand on clock towers backward spun,
contemplating all the time that the pendulum swung.
Let the continuum run, through the membranes and endgames.
From memories won, now the epiphany's gone.
Here, Rooke5 establishes the fantasy of the 61st minute, the 25th hour, the 366th day. They're all the same thing: imaginary, fantasy, not real, whatever you want to call it. Rooke5 illustrates his willingness to venture into this realm of the unreal with his image of the backwards spinning clock, but more important than the actualization of this idea is the freedom that this frame of mind creates.
While the spun/swung couplet moves backward in time, the two lines that follow move in the opposite direction. All of sudden, we are run through the membranes of time to the infinite potential "endgames" of our lives (chess is a recurring interest of Rooke5, if you couldn't tell from his name); the pieces have been mostly cleared from the board, and we are left to manage with the circumstance we have already created. Rooke5 tells us that a 61-minute-state-of-mind "wins" memories as a piece is won in chess, leaving us with more to operate with in the endgame. The verse operates like the Ghost of Christmas Future does for Scrooge; the epiphany that we've wasted our lives with frivolous concerns will be replaced with rich memories.
"It's kind of about being stuck in the same everyday situation," Rooke5 explains. "Day after day, going to work, doing the same thing over and over and over and Clockwork is about if you had one year and one day -- like, if you had an extra day in a year -- would you continue to live your life in this repetitive cycle or would you do something extravagant and go on this journey -- break the mold, do something you wouldn't ordinarily do? I just feel like so many people take time for granted. You only have a limited amount of time so why would you not go on this journey, this adventure?
"Memories are what you're rooted in, what you relate everything to," he goes on. "Life can be good or bad depending on whatever situation, but you have good memories and you have bad memories, of course. So there's this false epiphany, this false delusion of everything being okay, when a lot of times, it's not....We live for that extra day. There's so many people who just waste away, and whether they let themselves go to drugs or they let themselves go eating wise or not chasing that one dream that they have. This adventure is that one dream; go chase it."
Minutes loosen the noose of the Movado you choose,
when its choking your wrist cause I believe its abused.
But it's a ticking time bomb that's not simply diffused.
Then the oscillator pushes and the power's removed.
No hands pressing on so your worries improve.
Let the minutes turn to hours, find the time to let loose.
Then you turn on channel ten to discover the news
that a gear inside busted, restoration ensued.
And all that's left now is to tighten the screw.
Soon you're left to mull over how the present is used.
Rooke5's desire to live a life a free from time's constraints are represented by the watch, the Movado, he's chosen. The idea that time is running out is like a noose, but in the 61st minute, which exists outside of time, that's not an issue. The problem is that at the end of the day, the 61st minute simply isn't real. These lines convey Rooke5 struggling to reconcile his philosophical preference with everyday realities.
The hands on his watch aren't ticking, so every time he looks at his own watch, he feels a little better, but every time he becomes aware of the outside world, which is the function of the news here, he's reminded that his magical watch is actually just a broken watch. Eventually it's going to need to be fixed. And when he does get it fixed, he's going to realize that all those 61st minutes piled up, and he's lost a lot of time:
"That part is the realization that this isn't going to last forever," Rooke5 points out. "This is a temporary thing, and you're going from having this awesome, great day of endless possibilities to realizing that this isn't your reality....Time hasn't actually stopped; you haven't actually gained a full day, but you're living like it. You're making that conscious decision to actually continue this adventure, and even though you've had this realization that it's not permanent.
"The watch being broken is your escape," he adds. "Everybody has their schedule and their routine, and when you break off from that, in a sense, it kind of feels rebellious, but at the same time, it feels awesome. I'm sure you've had those days where you don't have to go to work for some reason.... All that time that you're getting is just awesome free time. You remember snow days in school? Instead of going to school that day, you got to go outside and have a snowball fight with friends or play football in the snow or sit around the fireplace and watch a movie as opposed to going to school and living your everyday, boring life."
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