You could make a strong case that Roc Marciano, the veteran rapper and producer from Long Island, set the template for the entire past decade of East Coast underground rap. In 2010, Roc Marci, a former member of Busta Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad, reinvented himself with the dense, flickering post-boom-bap mood piece Marcberg, and a whole lot of his peers took notes on how classic New York sounds could be twisted up in new ways. Since then, Marci has been working hard, living in the DIY niche that he carved out.
Last year, Roc Marci released two albums, the solo LP Behold A Dark Horse and Kaos, a full-length collab with Cypress Hill’s DJ Muggs. This past weekend, he followed them up with a new solo album called Marcielago. As with many of his previous albums, Marcielago is now available only as a $30 download on Marci’s website. (The other ones hit streaming services pretty soon afterward; it seems likely that this one will do the same.) And like Behold A Dark Horse, it has some pretty incredible cover art.
Marci produced almost all of Marcielago himself, which is a good thing. It’s got guest appearances from peers like Ka, Westside Gunn, and Willie The Kid. If you don’t feel like dropping the $30, the only track you can hear right now is “Richard Gear,” probably the best rap song ever to be named after the star of An Officer And A Gentleman.
“Richard Gear” has a hazy, pretty beat from Marci himself, and it’s free of the homophobia that has marred some recent Marci tracks. The song is full of intricately worded bon mots: “I’m with your bitch in the booth in the Ruth Chris, kissing / We slid in the backdoor and walked through the kitchen,” “My oral glisten / I shot the boy with the stick from long distance / And went off the grid and chilled, just like a baller with a torn meniscus.” In the bare-bones video, Marci smokes a bunch of weed and shows off a Ferrari in a parking garage. Check it out below.
The self-released Marcielago is out now, and you can get it at Roc Marci’s website.