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Iraq War Vet Opens for Digital Underground

Jeff Kravitz, FilmMagic

When rappers talk about “going to war and back,” it’s usually a reference to the drug game, rough upbringings and all sorts of intense experiences brought on by growing up in harsh urban environments. That’s not the case for Joe Roos — an up-and-coming rapper that is a veteran of the War in Iraq. He is opening for hip-hop legends Digital Underground in Wisconsin later this week and hopes to get some shine on the national level as he grows his career.

Joe had a seemingly normal upbringing with a steady job in the early 2000s before his life started to head downhill.

“There’s a lot to keep track of when you’re a kid trying to come up in that kind of grimy world, and I lost track of it all for a short-time in my life,” he explained to Scene Newspaper. “You just start your downward spiral, and you don’t even realize you’re falling; I didn’t, at least… But I bottomed out, man. I was in a car accident in 2003, which landed me in intensive care with a lacerated spleen and a bruised liver. As I sat there with tubes in my arm, I asked myself, ‘Does anyone even care that they know me?’”

Just as Roos was ready to drop his first album, ‘Just Glad to be Here,’ towards the end of 2008, he was deployed to Iraq. “I didn’t get to promote it,” he explained. “I got it up on iTunes and everything, but my family and friends covered that promotional angle for me.”

Now that he’s back and ready to rap, Roos is excited to add a new, distinct sort of voice to hip-hop. Not many have had the upbringing and life experiences that he has. That’s a valuable thing in a rap culture that always seeks out voices with new backgrounds and experiences.

“I’m all for music that’s about helping people have good time, but I’m also about music that reflects the culture and times we live in,” he concluded. “I mean, if you’re holding a microphone — and everyone’s listening to what you have to say — you can’t waste everyone’s time by dumping garbage on them.”

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