A Lowkey Legend: You Know Roc Marciano

When it comes to making music, everyone has a different approach. Some people choose to pay homage to those that came before them in order to emulate and reciprocate greatness. Such is the case with Roc Marciano a smooth operator out of Hempstead, New York. Growing up in Hempstead was rough for this New Yorker but he managed to climb his way out of the, “city in the suburbs.” He attributes the area where he is from for the direction of his approach, style and taste within the genre of hip-hop.

Six Degrees of Separation

Coming up, many people were hip to Roc’s talents and abilities but it wasn’t until he linked up with Busta Rhymes that he began to really garner major traction. Busta Rhymes formed a new label called, “Flipmode” and Marciano attributes this connection to the theory of “six degrees of separation.” Reason being, he went to school with Busta’s younger brother who caught wind of some of his early musical efforts and passed them along to Busta. Obviously, both of them thought highly of his capabilities and gave him the chance to shine on a brighter platform. Around 2000, Roc Marciano saw himself going for bar for bar with some of the hardest artists in the game. He gave the utmost respect for legendary artists who paved the way for him to thrive. He paid homage to those before him but also would gauge where they set the bar and try to surpass that. When he contributed to “The Heist” on Busta Rhymes album, “Anarchy” he exchanged verses with the likes of Ghostface Killah (fresh off classic album Supreme Clientele) and Raekwon, both from the Wu-Tang Clan.

UN or U Out?

In 2001, he formed his own clique called “UN Crew” with his Uniondale high school counterparts, Dino Brave, Laku and Mike Raw. They received cosigns from major influential artists such as Large Professor, Madlib and Just Blaze. The group rapped over Pete Rock beats called, “Petestrumentals” and navigated their way into their own record deal with 456 Entertainment. After their deal with Loud Records fell through, the UN Crew would ink an agreement with Carson Daly. Roc Marciano grew tired of obeying commands and having to rap over beats chosen for him and eventually disbanded from the UN Crew and the record label they were signed to.After a while, Roc began to truly differentiate himself from his peers. Rather than constantly trying to rap over the beat that is the, “hardest” he started to stray from the typical path and shift the paradigms of his artistry. Large Professor played a monumental role in the encouragement of Roc Marciano’s solo career. Large Professor encouraged this burgeoning artist to tap into the twisted sounds within his brain and individually produce every track for his forthcoming album. Often times, rappers have a leg up on their competition when they are able to rhyme over self-produced beats and melodies. Also, Roc Marciano executes his verses well with an off-kilter and complicated form. That is the reason why he received widespread internet acclaim when he dropped Marcberg in 2010. On his debut album, he received high amounts of underground reception because he was able to display the intricacies of his artistry. By rapping over his self-produced beats, Marciano was able to deliver sounds in pristine form and enter a zone that made him truly stand out. 

Smooth Maneuvers

Being an individual that keeps it fresh is nothing new to Roc Marci, stylistically, metaphorically and within his approach to the genre. His flow maintains a heavy stream-of-consciousness, is highly stylized and underappreciated. His casual intensity makes what he does seem effortless, meanwhile it is far from it. In reality, every move that he makes on wax and between the scenes requires a great deal of calculation, rehearsal and craftiness. Being both smooth and strange has yielded beneficial results for this NY artist. He is somebody who will put forth great bodies of work regardless of theme/concept, ultimately what matters is the lyricism and composition of the entire song. 

As an unpredictable, risk-taking and raw performer, Roc Marciano keeps it very interesting when it comes to creating tunes. In order to change the landscape of the genre and push culture forward he consistently tests the boundaries and takes risks to improve himself as an artist. He depicts extravagant chronicles and uses a hyper syllabic percussive flow. By doing so, he extricates great detail through the use of imaginative imagery. By layering images via dense wordplay he paints narratives with specific skill and prolific penmanship. The entire process is one that he has mastered and it has been concocted through non-traditional methods. Roc Marciano is the type of artist that illustrates so well that his verses could be translated into movie scenes (See Nas -> Belly below) This is actually something he sets out for while making music in hopes that one day he could develop scores for cinematic production.

Verbal Technician

Roc Marciano is nonchalantly devastating. As a descriptive and introspective emcee he illuminates the virtues of a true player in the game. His stone cold delivery accentuates elements of linguistics and exuberance. Through precise timing, cadence and tonality he is able to flourish through well-developed gems. His hyper-controlled nature allows for him to direct the process in the direction he sees fit for his persona. He has an extremely impressive flair for storytelling and that is the major reason why he has built a significant following. He attributes his gravitation to the art of rap to the group, “Ultramagnetics.” They showed him the “scientific” aspect of rap and Roc was highly intrigued by the possibility of evolution within the genre.  His innovative approach, authenticity and discrete nature are all reasons why people appreciate him and his music. 

With psychedelic wordplay, Roc is a hip-hop natural. By proceeding upon an organic path, the music that he releases allows the audience to follow the voyage of a time traveling wordsmith who is magnetic whenever he graces the mic. As a lowkey legend, Roc remains recluse and observant. In general, he does not care for radio spins as long as the checks come in and those who truly appreciate the music continue to catch wind of his endeavors. He has extremely high standards and tries to outdo himself every time he steps in the booth. He is constantly reinventing his craft and submits his ultimate contribution to the game by submitting songs that sustain with longevity. 

Precise Production Process / The Weak Get Devoured

When it comes to producing, Roc Marciano utilizes a guerrilla style approach to keep things interesting. He treats his craft like an operating system on a computer and continually updates and refreshes the formula. He digs through various ranges of musical samples and sees it as an adventure to discover new sounds and depict new sights from piecing together those sounds. This way, he is able to soak in the aura of the process and develop entirely new versions of music by combining individuality with the embodiment of the greats that came before him. The sounds that he finds whether it be from Miles Davis, Ohio Players or Quincy Jones must all have one thing in common – All samples must be able to move him spiritually, move the pen physically and produce renditions that the people can relate to intellectually.

He pursues the production process as a sort of musical gumbo. He likes to mix all different kinds of sounds such as blues, jazz and soul. By being creative with it, he manages to always reinvent his craft on every track. On production, he tends to leave tracks open (minimal drums) and does not usually include features for the same reason. By leaving space on the track, he can reach the desired effect of giving the listener time to contemplate and allowing his vocal contribution time to marinate.

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