PLAYING DETROIT: Curtis Roach shines on Sophomore LP, ‘Lellow’

Like any 20-year-old, Curtis Roach has gone through some major changes in the last year: moving out of his mom’s house, entering and exiting college, trying out veganism. However, navigating life as an up-and-coming, critically acclaimed hip hop artist has proved to be the most difficult. Regardless, Roach is determined to stay positive through it all, which explains the UV-level brightness of his latest record, Lellow. Roach’s sophomore LP reflects exactly where he’s at in this season of life – on the rise, a little overwhelmed, but facing every day with unyielding optimism.

As someone who openly struggles with anxiety, it’s clear that Roach has repeatedly turned to music again and again as the ultimate antidote. But if his 2017 single “Anxietea.” is a vivid depiction of the hopeless perspective anxiety can paint,  Lellow’s “I’m Good!” is a clap back, reminding him that there’s a light at the end of this tunnel.  “I know that life ain’t all rainbows but / bitch I am thankful / yo I’m good” Roach puts simply. Actually, it’s the simplicity of the song that makes it so calming. Roach repeats “I’m good,” throughout the song like a mantra, until he, and whoever’s listening, actually believe it. 

Roach’s positive affirmations prove to be a much healthier coping mechanism for anxiety than most people in their early twenties turn to. In fact, he seems to have a more well-rounded viewpoint on self-care than a lot of people who have been trying the adult thing for years, even decades. “Affirmations, eating good, paying attention to my health… I take time to just breathe,” says Roach. “Little stuff like that you don’t think is important, it helps tremendously.”

Taking time to breathe is important when you have as much on your plate as Roach does. Although he released his first project when he was sixteen, this past year following the release of Highly Caffeinated has opened a lot of doors for the young rapper. But Roach explains that these new doors also opened up new avenues for stress. 

“It gets overwhelming at times,” says Roach. “At one point, it didn’t even matter to me, the whole business thing. I’d just be making music in my basement and then I’d release it on Soundcloud and hope for the best. Now… there’s just a lot of things you have to take into consideration if you want to be somewhat successful in the music industry.” 

That being said, the veins of positivity that run through Lellow indicate that Roach is taking everything in stride. His moment is now, and he’s not afraid to tell the world. Listen to Lellow below and catch Roach at Detroit’s AfroFuture Fest and Kindred Music & Culture Festival this summer.