Interview: D.C. rapper Sa-Roc

By Michael Lyle, Jr.

Rapper Sa-Roc is one of the most vibrant MCs in the world today. Her crisp articulation, fiery delivery, and insightful lyricism have won her accolades from critics, colleagues, and fans around the world since releasing her first recordings in 2008.

In 2020, Sa-Roc embarked on the national “A Black Woman Created This Tour” with rapper Rapsody and performed an NPR Tiny Desk Concert, which led viewers to describe her as “the truth” and “the best lyricist in recent times.”

After a stellar performance during BET’s 2022 Hip Hop Awards Cypher, Sa-Roc embarked on her first headlining tour, Sa-Roc Presents: The Mother Tongue Tour, which included stops in Colorado Springs and Denver.

I caught up with Sa-Roc prior to her Nov. 25 performance at Cervantes in Denver.

Mike Lyle: What is it about your music that’s made you so popular with your fans both domestically and internationally?

Sa-Roc: I think I offer a unique perspective as a woman MC. Telling different stories attracts people. I think particularly with my last album, The Sharecropper’s Daughter, the success was driven by me being vulnerable and talking about things that we don’t typically hear about.

Sa-roc sharecroppers daughter album cover art

I talk about self-love a lot. I talk about traumas and healing those traumas and being triumphant over those traumas. Exploring stories that are not often explored and doing them in a way that leaves me open and the music open for it to be heard by many different people from different backgrounds – even though I’m telling it specifically from my perspective as a black woman, and my experiences in my black community, and the history of black people in this country.

I think the core of the message is something that a lot of people can connect to because we all have traumas, and we all have experiences that have been passed down to us that we don’t understand how to let go – or we have to strive for this particular goal of success and how to be in the world. And I’m just dismantling all of that through my music.

You performed in Colorado Springs just days after the tragic shooting at Club Q. What was the vibe like? Did you get a sense that the crowd needed your presence to help heal?

Sa-Roc: I think so. I took a moment to acknowledge the victims and families of Club Q, and just really pushed the message home of understanding how powerful our light is. And although we may lose loved ones and we stand here, it’s our obligation to shine on their behalf.

It was a very emotional night. I got a little choked up on stage because when we go out to experience music and have a common space where we can be in spaces of joy and having fun, we deserve for that moment to be safe. And the victims of that club didn’t have that. It’s a scary thing when you think about those spaces being invaded with that kind of hate and violence.

Sa-Roc photo portrait Idris Abdullah
Credit: Idris Abdullah

You’ve been through Colorado before, so what is it like coming back here to perform?

Sa-Roc: I always love coming to Denver. The vibe of the people is always loving and uplifting. As an artist, my goal is to reflect everything I’m getting from the audience back to them, and vice-versa, creating this circle of empowerment and uplifting together.

I’m happy that the message I’m sharing through my music can spread throughout the state and share in the healing process. That’s the reason why I even do music – first and foremost is to heal myself, and then hopefully [help heal] others through my stories and music.

We’re all about love, we’re all about speaking up about injustice, and we’re all about challenging one another to meet each other with kindness and create spaces that encourage it.

Michael Lyle, Jr. is the weekday afternoon All Things Considered host on KUNC.


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