Roc Marciano has a long history in this game, as a member of both the Flipmode Squad and the U.N. family, but perhaps his most famous appearance is on Pete Rock’s Petestrumentals album, which dropped in 2001. With Marcberg, he finally gets around to venturing out as a solo artist, but the question remains as to why it took so long to happen in the first place.
Backed by Fat Beats, Roc is like the Last of The Mohicans, as perhaps one of the only emcees left in New York City that still cares to make raw, boom-bap infused hip-hop that made the 90′s era so great. The production on Marcberg is like that of many albums from the era, mainly influenced by records like the original Only Built For Cuban Links LP, as Roc deals heavily in crime rhymes with hit and miss results. The cold, classic sound of “Snow” finds him detailing the hustler’s ambition, no matter what the weather, over a vintage crate dug sample that matches his style perfectly. He later expands on the topic on “Jungle Fever”, an extended metaphor that finds him comparing pimping white women to slanging coke to rich folks, in one of the rare cases that he stays on topic.
What is problematic about Marcberg though, is Roc’s seemingly random flow, that in many cases just finds him stringing words together, almost improvisational, as he prattles on about his two main passions – drug dealing and pimpin’. While this kind of thing is prevalent in most rap songs these days, Roc unfortunately has a drab presence on the mic, as the listener pulls in and out of consciousness trying to keep up with his aimless flow. Songs like “Pop” recount the more forgettable side of 90′s hip-hop, with an 80′s Cuban drug lord-inspired track, while “We Do It” takes a track better suited for RZA and crew, and downgrades it to Roc’s monotonous, repetitive delivery. Problems like the latter plague much of the remainder of the LP.
The saving grace for Marcberg is it’s production. Fans of this era of gully New York, Timberland boot-stomping, lay-ya-nuts-on-the-dresser, speak-with-criminal-slang will undoubtedly appreciate the overall sound and style of Roc’s overdue debut, which is it’s boldest asset. However many of us that we’re actually a part of this scene in that era will recognize this for what is – something not strong enough to stand next to a bevy of classic albums.
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