Roc Marciano was a former member of Busta Rhyme’s Flipmode Squad and Pete Rock affiliated group The UN. This is Roc’s first solo album after appearing on the compilation Wu-Tang Meets the Indie Culture, Pete Rock’s NY’s Finest and The UN group albums. This album is entirely self produced and has only 1 feature, making this a proper showcase of Roc’s skills, and he turns in one of the best hardcore rap albums of the last decade.
The album starts off with Pimptro, which sets the tone for the rest of the album. Gritty, unmastered samples, and stream of consciousness flow fill the next hour. Any fan of old Mobb Deep will find something to love about this album. Roc’s voice is reminiscent of a young Prodigy, but slightly higher pitched. His beats bring back feelings of mid-90’s Havoc and RZA. On every track Roc flexes his narrative skills and spits Raekwon style braggadocio over banging self produced beats.
Whether spinning tales of robbery and betrayal, or crafting racially charged pimp tales, Roc seems to be at home on this album. The beats are minimal, with just a repeated sample for Roc to flow over. Roc’s flow is very unique, sounding almost off beat while filling nearly every bar with internal rhymes. His stories are as descriptive as the best Ghostface verse, and his slang immerses you, calling back to the Cuban Linx days.
On Snow, Roc predictably raps about cocaine, but not in a Scarface-esque fantastical way. He narrates a tale about a mid-level coke pusher, instead of boasting about moving kilos in speedboats, making this track more believable than most about the subject. On Jungle Fever, Roc uses white women as a metaphor for cocaine and speaks about hiding “her” from his mother and the disappointment it would bring if she found out he was “messing with that white girl”.
But Marcberg is far from “coke rap”. Roc is as much Prodigy as he is a Raekwon. On Ridin Around, he crafts a story about robbery, which brings back memories of Prodigy on Cradle To The Grave. Hide My Tears is an ode to fallen friends, while Pop is dedicated to gunplay, predictably.
Marciano brings back the golden age of hardcore New York rap and immerses you in the grimy Long Islander’s world, all while setting himself apart from the NY pioneers by showcasing his production skills and unique flow. There is not one misstep lyrically nor production wise on this album, and if you are a fan of old Wu Tang or Mobb Deep, you are doing yourself a disservice by not checking this album out.