Roc Marciano has experienced somewhat of a second childhood in hip-hop, first debuting as member of Busta Rhymes’ fledgling Flipmode Squad, after the departure of Lord Have Mercy. He later teamed with Pete Rock on his Petestrumentals Beat Generation project, acting as one of the only voices on the largely instrumental LP. He finally released his debut album, Marcberg in 2010, to great critical acclaim. The plan for it’s follow-up was originally to be a remixed version of the debut, titled Marcberg Reloaded, but that idea was scrapped for a new LP, simply titled Reloaded.
First and foremost, Roc Marciano is an acquired taste. His unorthodox style finds him picking super-chilled out beats, while rhyming over them with a screwfaced, freestyle type of delivery. The tone on Reloaded is much like that of Marcberg; mellow production that invokes the freezing cold of the streets of New York, as Roc rhymes from the perspective of a 1970′s, Taxi Driver villain. Largely produced by Roc and Alchemist, the duo’s production compliments each other, sounding like the work of a lone producer. Even Q-Tip’s more jazzy “Thread Count” fits in perfectly with the rest of the LP.
Like Pete Rock or J. Dilla before him, Roc Marciano is quite a risk-taker in terms of production, transforming strange source material of “76″ and “Nine Spray” into brooding beats, or taking smoother soul samples and turning them into uncomfortably off-kilter selections (“Death Parade”, “Peru”). Al’s contributions (“Flash Gordon”, “Pistolier”, “Deeper”) are almost like an added bonus, as Roc’s self-production steals the show.
Reloaded is almost like the Donuts of grimy New York street LP’s, as Roc has built an experimental album, with a clear, definitive sound and vision. Unlike an entire generation of rappers, Roc forgoes a heavy guest list or team of “hot” producers; he simply makes the music exactly how he wants it to sound, and the end result is one of the most original LP’s of the year. Make no mistake, this is not for everyone. Roc’s music is a completely original take on the boom-bap formula, almost like as if Jeru took his music deeper underground (if you can imagine that). It’s brooding, downer music, unsuitable for Friday nights or even Wednesday rush hour. This is late night, smoke-filled basement rap, and for those that can feel it, it feels real good.
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