Roc Marciano – Reloaded (Album) [Review]
Long Island, NY– The grittiness of New York hip-hop lives long in the palm of Long Island’s Roc Marciano – from corner-slinging tales to the old-fashioned lore of conquering the concrete jungle.
Reloaded is more of an ode to the 33-year-old rapper, who plays it off like he’s been doing it since the last time the Knicks were contenders. The release should be a pick-up for any old-school fan seeking anything and everything to do with poetry and the not-nice things you can do with the English language. Hit the jump for the rest of the review.
“Yeah, I’m still on my 90’s kick and I won’t apologize for it…”
Right from the start, Roc promises to “push your Afro back to ’76…”
After spending the majority of the last decade drowned out by major labels, the MC once affiliated with Busta Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad re-surfaced in 2010 with his release of Marcberg. The effort ceased to disappoint those in search of the melancholic mid-90’s feel. Not to mention, the nostalgic tribute to the pimp posture of the ’70’s and the 1980 crack-era put him on the same level as NYC natives such as Action Bronson and El-P, set aside the domination of the five boroughs.
This time around, Roc’s scenario was a challenge. Reloaded is filling in the voids for what his last album should have been; the 2012 release is an improvement in terms of the dynamics Marcberg didn’t deliver, in every conceivable way.
Nevertheless, Reloaded is a New York album. His flow tends to mimic that of Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan. Be it the edgy delivery of verse or the grit, he can take it as a compliment.
Roc has improved his lyrical game in retrospect to previous projects as well. Yet, he is still trying to establish a signature trademark in opposition to hand-me-down stylistics as far as vocals go (mind the Raekwon comparison).
Reloaded could be quotable to the last bar. From “Tek to a Mack” to “Pistolier”, the lyrical wizardry is limitless. “I’m back for the crown, baby / In the Avi’ that’s brown like gravy / Style’s wavy, lazy eye Tracy McGrady / Deliver like an 80-pound baby,” he raps on “Pistolier.” We already know Tracy McGrady has a lazy eye, but the creativity is there. Roc manages to clutter countless syllabic lines one-after-another without ever robbing clarity or parting way from the tracks’ narrative feel.
Every now and then, a rapper emerges to defy the structure in hip-hop. They stretch the boundaries once sought to hold back the limits of lyricism . We’ve seen it in 2000 by Prodigy and in 2012 by Kendrick Lamar. To say Roc is that man would be a bit of an over-statement (no offense). It still is Gangsta’ Rap in the entity. It still is the routine verse-hook-verse type of shit, but the self-admiration for his skill to bend the English language is something you can’t critique.
The production, courtesy of Alchemist and A.G, is abrupt with blackploitation and menace, as always. So take Reloaded as a minor classic.
The weak note? Don’t expect much if you’re looking for storytelling that transcends the traditional ‘rush-a-clique + bust-a-clip + fuck-a-bitch + cop-the-liq’ formula. This theme is evident in nearly every track. He just tells it pretty well.
Take the negative critique as something irrelevant and give Reloaded a listen, seriously. A rapper doesn’t have to be everything to everyone, and Roc’s use of even the smallest amount of concept can have the potential to run deep as far as popular appeal goes. His strengths lie in anti-social, verbally virtuosic, beat-down hip-hop, but look what happened when Mobb Deep decided to start making love songs.
Written by Zack Noureddine for HipHopCanada