Nights & Weekends is nowhere near Zilla Rocca’s first album (it’s actually his third), but for the differences between it and his previous solo work, it might as well be. For this conceptual-esque 10-track project, Zilla sometimes takes on a persona, Vic Sage – perhaps of a private detective – who drinks too much, is always about two bucks short of broke and is a magnet for trouble, women and women in trouble.
After the rapid, random rhymes of “Crème de Menthe”, we move on to “Vaguely Jamacian, Part 2”, where we find our hero making sordid arrangements with a waitress. This standout track has a loose narrative laid out over a Reggae, guitar-heavy beat. The bouncing Zilla does between tracks with a theme and those without much structure work to keep the album lively and varied. This variance also draws the listener back into to each track anew, just like when different items for a grand dinner begin to come out of the oven, each with a distinct, appetizing smell.
“Something Good” is the album’s party groove. Some synth keys and a few soul samples scattered around the soft drum beat work nicely as Zilla goes off about the latest lady in his life and Curly Castro and My Man Shafe lend some lyrics to the track. Bouncing back to a structured track, “New Year’s Eve 2003” is a dark, twisted tale played out over a heavy metal riff and quick drums that fudges the lines of reality, dreams and nightmares. If you’re lucky enough to remember your New Year’s Eve from that year, you’ll be thankful it was nothing like this.
The kid also lays down a solid cover of D’Angelo’s “Devil Pie” that no one who doesn’t know the original would think it wasn’t made specifically for this project. Sitting between too short and just right in length, the record contains one bonus track – “Full Spectrum (Man Mantis Remix)” which is far better, beat-wise, than the original.
Far from typical, Nights & Weekends is abstract, engaging, bizarre and great for just those reasons. On the initial listen, the album might not seem like it’s even trying to be a Hip-Hop project. But on subsequent spins, when you have a chance to absorb Zilla’s wordplay and story-telling ability, you’ll find it fills the void in your collection that you didn’t even know existed.