Sip the Henny without the chaser, piss on the city from the skyscraper…
-Roc Marciano, Thug’s Prayer Pt. 2
If you’ve been keeping up with internet Hip Hop or this blog lately, you’d know that Roc Marciano has been dropping gems left and right in recent weeks, culminating with the release of his Decon record label debut: Reloaded. From the singles and leaks that I heard before the album, Reloaded had already earned a spot amongst my most highly anticipated albums for the year, and after listening to it, it’s clear Marciano went above and beyond expectations. Reloaded is Roc Marciano’s offering to hip hop purists and golden age junkies alike: an eerily overcast and at times mystical portrayal of the inner workings of New York’s streets through some extremely mastered lyricism.
Listeners should take note of the album’s production. The entire tape maintains a consistent minimalist style that sounds like it was made especially for Roc’s laid back street poetics. The Hempstead, Long Island emcee produced a little over half of the album himself, but even in the beats Roc picked from other producers – Alchemist, Q-Tip, Arch Druids, and Ray West – he managed to keep a darkly smooth undertone in every song. This really allows for this album to play through fluently from front to back without any friction. The production sets a consistent background vibe through the album, but it’s Roc Marciano’s distinct lyrical style that really steals the show and makes Reloaded a must listen for Hip-Hop connoisseurs.
As a dove flew out the glove of the magician
It was just as I predicted, reality is prescripted,
The trees twisted, autistic
Gorgeous hitmen, escort the vixen,
Porsches.. imported liquids…
-Roc Marciano, Flash Gordon
This is street poetry. On Reloaded, Roc Marciano manages to separate himself from the majority of today’s emcees through his sound, crafting an impeccably structured flow that really showcases his mastering of rhyme couplets. Any adept Hip-Hop listener who enjoys advanced lyricism will find much replay value Roc’s descriptive, fine-tuned bars:
You a bi-product, the God’s they grind and buy product,
Black cards lie inside Prada wallets,
Black cars glide like flying carpets,
The .40 lay you out like a starfish,
I doin God’s work in the booth,
this was Allah’s wish, I put a skirt on the coop,
squirt thirty-32s that’ll burn in your suit…
-Roc Marciano, Emeralds
Although I would rate the vast majority of Reloaded’s tracks somewhere around that 4 to 4 and a half star range, there are a number of standouts that go beyond this album’s already pretty dope standard. ‘We Ill,’ a 3 and a half-minute conscious stream of thought by Roc over an unorthodox beat pattern plays with what you expect to hear and really leaves you anticipating a drop that doesn’t come until the song eventually fades out. ‘Thugs Prayer Pt. 2’ has Roc giving respect to some of his fallen comrades with perhaps the most experimental beat on the album (self-produced) that seems to change every few seconds. As chaotic as that sounds, Roc does a great job showing off his flow’s dexterity while maintaining the overall vibe of the album, even over a beat and rhythm that are hard to pin down.
Perhaps my favorite song on Reloaded is the Q-Tip-produced ‘Thread Count.’ Roc Marciano sounds perfectly at home over the Tribe Called Quest member’s jazzy loops and comes up with some of the most memorable lines of the album like “Now who can see me,/ Musically, awake the kundalini” (if you’ve never heard of the tantric Kundalini, peep this).
Overall, I can honestly say there is not a bad or even mediocre song on this album. Marciano has dropped a fluckin’ gem on our heads with Reloaded. This is the kind of shit that is saving Hip-Hop, and you best believe I’m going to say you should buy this with your own money.