StaySolidRocky’s bittersweet melodic rap is the sound of late nights, long-shot dreams, and mixed feelings. Rocky was born Darak Figueroa in San Antonio, Texas in 2001, and grew up with his mother, a former rapper; it was in high school, after moving in with his father in Richmond, Virginia, that he began making his own music. He knew he was onto something in 2019 when he uploaded a snippet of unfinished song “Party Girl” to social media and the likes began rolling in. Encouraged, he finished it at a friend’s studio—and his future was sealed. Before long, former XXXTENTACION manager Solomon Sobande had signed Rocky to a deal, and not long after that, the artist was going viral. Ostensibly an ode to hedonistic women who take drugs and tote guns, “Party Girl” stood out for its melancholy tone—and a surprising confession: “They say you ain’t wifey type, but I don’t care, I want you.” In developing a singsong rap style influenced by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Lil Wayne in successive songs, Rocky has shown a similar mix of whimsy and pain, suggesting that fame’s not all it’s cracked up to be, even if music remains the ultimate refuge. As he sings on the downcast “Soft Aggression,” “In a room full of people I feel lonely deep inside.” His fans may have come to Rocky to vicariously live large, but his vulnerable side keeps them transfixed.