Roc Marciano’s aura and legacy comes not only from his intricate, complex and incredibly poetic lyricism but his wonderfully cinematic music. Every project sounds like a movie. From 2010’s Marcberg to 2019’s MARCIELAGO, The New York rapper paints canvases not only with his words but his incredibly soulful and lavish production. It’s easy to forget that he produces a lot of his own beats, and the thing is, he’s one of my favourite producers as well. I’ve tried to decipher his music and lyrical themes for a few years now, and his consistent and relatively frequent output makes it increasingly difficult to keep up.
His eight studio albums (including the incredible collaborative project with DJ Muggs titled Kaos) display phenomenal levels of introspective observations, with gloomy and moodier musical tapestries highlighting a darker more uneasy tone to his work overall. He stated in a Complex interview that ideally he wants to “score movies,” and it’s clear throughout his discography that soundtracks play a pivotal role as inspiration for his sound. His menacing, unapologetic yet smooth voice provides an intriguing and captivating narration to his world, with a voice that sounds dangerous. The way he commands himself throughout his entire discography is just hypnotic. While his usual nonchalant and monotonous flow and delivery has been somewhat of a trademark within his style, his most recent album MARCIELAGO (released in December 2019) finds him more energetic that previous albums, bringing not only more dynamic verses and delivery to his poetic words, but his production features heavier drums, giving the album an undeniable groove that feels lively and upbeat.
Lead single “Richard Gere” is an incredible one, as he flexes his lyrical wordplay with bars like “Ass so fat, this shit had me tripping like tryna stick Rod Strickland / My aura glisten, I shot the bull with the stick from long distance / And went off the grid to chill just like a baller with a torn meniscus.” Collaborations throughout include the legend KA on “Ephesians,” Knowledge the Pirate on the incredible “Tom Chambers,” Cook$ on “Puff Daddy” and “God Loves You,” Westside Gunn on “Boosie Fade” and Willie The Kid on “Bomb Shelter.” The way this man is able to flip his beats, break them down and bring such incredible soul to his work is honestly next level. Examples include “Tom Chambers” and more so “I.G.W.T,” which is probably my favourite instrumental on the whole album. It’s an incredible body of work that follows the same footsteps as his previous material, and his whole discography since Macberg has not contained a single underwhelming body of work. It’s impossible for me to chose a favourite. RR2: The Bitter Dose and Behold a Dark Horse are my personal favourites (2018 was definitely his defining year), while his dark, menacing, soulful and quotable second studio album Reloaded and the 2017 classic Rosebudd Revenge are two career-defining projects from the 41 year old Long Island Rapper. He truly ages like fine wine. His hasn’t had a misstep yet, and I’m sure that the twenties are going to be some of his golden years.
For all the reasons mentioned, Roc Marciano is my defining rapper of the 2010s. Fearless, experimental, always witty, intricate and menacing, his flows and production are flawless. A true legend and maestro of his own craft. Listen to his entire discography if you have the chance, and stream and buy Roc Marciano’s eighth album MARCIELAGO. You can listen to it via Spotify below.