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Meaning of ‘Rock Co.Kane Flow’ by ‘De La Soul’ feat. MF DOOM

Released: 2004

Features: MF DOOM

“Rock Co.Kane Flow” by De La Soul, featuring myth-making legend MF DOOM, is a gloriously brazen and eclectic display of lyrical mastery and skill. It’s a sharp critique of the mainstream hip-hop market, filled with commentaries on the game’s artificiality and the duo’s refusal to play by its rules. This track also showcases the artists’ cultural literacy, incorporating references from unexpected places.

When De La Soul spits “Up in them five-star tellies and two mic rhymes/Be them average MC’s of the times,” they’re taking a direct shot at the materialistic and superficial nature of mainstream rappers. De La’s focus is on lyricism, crafting “gems” that challenge the industry norm. They call out unnamed producers who selfishly plug their names over the tracks they work on, advising them instead to focus on their craft and earn their recognition.

DOOM’s verse is a masterful display of wordplay, infusing his lyrics with references to pop culture, like the cereal mascot “Toucan Sam” and sci-fi references, such as “Riddick Bowe.” He asserts his dominance, stating that his skills outstrip those of competitors whose “vocab, stamina, style’s all irrelevant”. DOOM presents himself as a formidable force within the industry, not concerned with the petty squabbles of ‘squads, crews and clans’.

Meanwhile, De La asserts their significance in the industry and their independent mindset, proudly stating “we De La to the death, or at least until we break up.” This signifies their commitment to their creative vision and their refusal to bend to industry standards or pressures. They credit their longevity to their ability to evolve while remaining authentic to their style, noted in “everyone cools off from being hot/It’s about if you can handle being cold or not”. Their creative mentor Prince Paul taught them to remain unique in style, rather than chasing popularity, a mantra they’ve adhered to since their inception.

The lyric “Sacrifice mics and push drugs to these rappers/ Puff ponies ’til I turn blue in the lips” is an ode to the skill and potency of their lyrics. De La isn’t literally pushing drugs, but their verses are so addictively good they’re likened to a potent intoxicant. Wrapping up the track, the birth date reference “September 2-1, 1-9, 6-8”- a nod to De La member Posdnuos’ birthday, seemed like a playful jab at critics who might say they were too old for the game, their rebuttal, simply, was to continue to out-rhyme the competition.

Overall, “Rock Co.Kane Flow” is a celebration of non-conformity to industry expectations. It’s a statement piece that shows De La Soul and MF DOOM’s unwillingness to succumb to trends or popularity contests. Their focus is on the music, their craft, and they’re not afraid to call out those who don’t share their artistic integrity.

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