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Marcberg LP

Roc Marciano

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Album Review

In music, the word "auteur" is usually saved for highfalutin artists of both great fame and great critical acclaim (in hip-hop, think Kanye West, RZA, Q-Tip, Andre 3000, and the few other agreed-upon "geniuses" of that ilk). Rarely does one man's vision produce music that ascends to art, especially when the artist's music strictly dwells in underbelly subject matter and sonic textures — and especially if said artist would exceed expectations of selling 10,000 albums. Roc Marciano is an auteur: a grimy, underground, unsung, unexpected, unassuming auteur. His major debut album, Marcberg, is a 15-track, 13-song gem that is as understated a revelation as can be. Who knew this cat from Long Island's U.N. crew and the former (albeit briefly) Flipmode representative had this in him? "This" being a self-produced LP with only one guest verse. "This" being an album sonically rich and ambient, emotionally moody, and lyrically dexterous. "This" is to say that Roc Marc offers classic, sample-heavy, N.Y.C. beats appropriating the '90s golden-era craftsmanship that underpins Marc's nuanced, heavily steez'd flow (reminiscent of legends Raekwon and Buckshot), spitting newly spun, age-old tales of, and takes on, N.Y.C. street living/survival.

This is minimalist excess. Marc, who just started using an MPC to craft his beats, relies on dark, claustrophobic, ornery samples that remind you of when the Beatminerz and mid-'90s Havoc were bumping — before Kanye, Just Blaze, and 9th Wonder ran "soul samples" into the ground. Tracks like "Ridin Around," "Don S**t," and the title cut are what Marc's former Flipmode boss was talking about when he said he was on his "New York S**t." Remember "head-nodders"? That's "Snow" — Marc's underground cult smash that leaked back in 2008. "Snow," of course, embodies the street-corner climate that pervades the album. Marcberg is an album in the voice of folks who can't tell the difference between Reagonomics America and the booming, Clinton-era America for today's American recession years. Hustlin' hasn't changed. For those who wistfully long for that era of N.Y.C. hip-hop unadulterated by Auto-Tune and club synths and indie rock pandering, this is a beacon. It doesn't necessarily look forward, and it definitely doesn't look back. It's an unheralded auteur's contemporary vision; one whose future work will only add import.

Biography

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Roc Marciano is an MC from New York City's tradition-rich Long Island. His work, first with the U.N. Crew and later as a solo artist, is quintessential New York underground. His moody, claustrophobic production and stream-of-consciousness, heavily...
Full bio
Marcberg LP, Roc Marciano
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