Multi-talented is the best way to describe this talented young artist, born on the mean streets of Camden, New Jersey, and raised on the cold streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Musician, writer, author, hustler, chef, server, felon, father, he has played many roles in his young life so far, with many more roles still to play.
Between living with mother, father, aunts and grandparents (shout out to my grandmother ______, the angel of my life), young Rocca (D Juan, AKA Seni Marques) attended four different middle schools and five different high schools. Torn between broken homes in broken cities, he stretched into manhood early, perhaps too early. Two days before graduating third in his high school class, drama ensued, interrupting his moment of achievement, a common theme in his life.
After formally obtaining his GED, he attended a JOB Corp culinary arts school in Baltimore, Maryland. He finished at the top of his class and was offered an opportunity for advanced training in San Francisco, California. There he excelled and was voted Executive Chef of his class. Of course, drama once again ensued at another peak of glory.
After experiencing a whiff of the California life, he found himself back home in Camden, one of the poorest, little, tired cities in America, where nothing had changed and not much grew. In fact, it had gotten worse. Rocca, now a young man, knew if he stuck around, he would get sucked in. But music had always been an outlet for him growing up, a therapeutic way to express himself, where he found his escape from the harshness of his young life. Over the years, he honed his craft and became a local music celebrity, but with that notoriety came money, drugs and women – a deadly combination if not handled with care.
The end result, once again just at a breakthrough moment, drama ensued, betrayal, anger,
violence erupted, and the up-and-coming artist crashed back to earth, his career put on hold by a two-year prison bid for drug trafficking.
While spending two weeks in the h*** (solitary confinement) for getting kicked of a behavior modification program, in which he was excelling, ironically, there emerged an author, Seni Marques. He used the remaining 18 months to write by hand the novels, Monkeys Can’t Sell Bananas and Good Cookies, sending the written manuscripts home to his grandmother for safekeeping.
After being released from prison, he found himself right back home and once again, nothing had changed. Refusing to be sucked in once more, he decided to move to Florida. There, he self-published Monkeys Can’t Sell Bananas. Of course, he didn’t know how to market the book and was discouraged by poor sales of his new work of art. He moved to North Carolina, in pursuit of his stalled music career, and found success waiting for him. He competed in and won a radio-sponsored rap contest, and was voted the best independent artist of the year in Fayetteville. True to form, drama once again ensued. Betrayal, theft, anger, retaliation and poor decisions forced Rocca to leave North Carolina in a hurry, his new fame left behind.
He headed back south to Florida, where he relied on his culinary arts skills, landing him job after job, slaving in hot, crowded kitchens, his dreams slowly evaporating like the steam over the stoves. He started as a pantry cook and worked his way up to kitchen manager in a few years, but the urge to pursue his writing career never waned. In fact, as he advanced in the workplace, his appetite and ambition for success grew more and more. He went on to self-publish Good Cookies and continues to learn the hard lessons of growing up a black man in America.
Now in Atlanta, Rocca continues to pursue his artistry as a musician, as a writer, and businessman.