Roc Marciano’s ‘Reloaded’ Supplied a New Path for Underground Rap

Oumar Saleh

Oumar Saleh is a contract popular culture author based mostly in…

Roc Marciano

Picture Cre Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Roc Marciano’s sophomore album Reloaded didn’t simply rubber-stamp Roc as an elite lyricist; it offered a path for a blueprint for post-boom bap rappers.

It took some time for Roc Marciano to get right here. After a quick stint in Busta Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad and attempting to type his personal group with three childhood pals — The UN — to little success, the seasoned Hempstead, Lengthy Island native spent a number of years within the wilderness. It didn’t matter that he had one of the best verse on a track with Busta, Raekwon, and Ghostface Killah or that he acquired co-signs from Pete Rock and Massive Professor, for Roc was destined to be an also-ran, languishing behind his revered friends. Then, in 2010, Roc emerged from the shadows along with his solo debut Marcberg. Equal elements ruthless and visceral, it was Mobb Deep’s Hell on Earth reincarnated however slicker. Totally self-produced, the file turned a direct underground favourite amongst followers, fellow rappers, and the few critics that coated it.

However whereas Marcberg wrote the blueprint, its follow-up was Roc’s imaginative and prescient celebrating its grand premiere. Launched on November 13, 2012, Reloaded is a crisp and expansive listening expertise that improves on its predecessor in each single aspect. A stylistic descendant of Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., Mobb Deep’s The Notorious, and Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele, it’s a no-frills noir closely impressed by three many years of Black America: the Blaxploitation phenomenon of the ‘70s, Reaganomics within the ‘80s, and the ‘90s grit-sodden nihilism.

On Reloaded, Roc paints himself as an unapologetic OG draped in chinchilla and rocking gold round his neck. He’s strutting across the underworld of New York Metropolis with a pimp cane and a loaded strap, his pockets are filled with blunts and C-notes, and he’s acquired a hell of numerous tales to inform. Oozing blaxploitation cool, Roc is the epitome of whole composure on the infernal “Tek to a Mac,” rapping about being “in an Avi that’s brown like gravy” whereas using in a “Plymouth listening to the Spinners.” His model’s wavy however he’s nonetheless on his gangsta shit too, threatening to “pierce your rib with the spear like Shaka Zulu.” Because the album opener’s title suggests, Roc Marciano makes it identified from the get-go that he’s levelled up and Reloaded is his coronation.


A trait that Roc skillfully demonstrates all through Reloaded is his tendency to tiptoe between stoic menace and absurd humor. On the chilly bonus minimize, “Two Zips,” Marci holds up an opp with a .44 “for a small treasure” earlier than “lining them up like a Wahl edger. The cinematic “76” has him emptying clips on his enemies ‘til their “bodily being turned to creamed corn” earlier than hilariously referring to himself because the “bedspring king.” Roc’s internal Dolemite is once more unleashed on “Peru,” the place he raps, “Lick the poonani, Benz huge physique. Aphrodite, ass is mighty.”

What makes his delusions of grandeur even funnier is his nonchalant cadence, which brings some offbeat levity into his grisly crime rhymes. Like Prodigy, Cam’ron, and Ghost earlier than him, Roc likes to contort the English language to his will. Reloaded is an exhibition of his semantic wizardry, filled with multisyllabic rhymes and rewindable quotables. Take the sinister “9 Spray” with brother-in-bars Ka:

“The gun is rust brown, it’s an oldie however goodie. I’m wanting like Goldie within the hoodie, rose gold rollie, Tec-9 is loaded up totally. Shells fly, open you want pussy.”

Given his prowess in combining precision verbiage with narrative aptitude, it’s not stunning that Roc by no means as soon as devolves into cluttered rappity-rap.

Reloaded didn’t simply rubber-stamp Roc as an elite lyricist; he elevated into one other stratosphere as a producer since Marcberg. The beats are a chic mélange of wierd samples, obscure movie snippets, and expressive instrumentals, typically decreasing drums to a mere pitter-patter from afar. Moody keys and mournful sax information the stirring “20 Guns.” Bluesy guitars harking back to Albert Collins wail over “Not Told.” Whereas 10cc’s harmonious slow-dancer “I’m Not in Love” transitions into ominous bap-and-bars on “76.” Lastly, album nearer “The Man” is powered by triumphant organs that play over our anti-hero’s glad ending: “Thoughts blowin’ intercourse with the cognac breath. 5 star unfold from the chef.”

Regardless of its dedication to the hallowed tenets of mid-’90s increase bap, it might be reductive to easily label Reloaded as a Golden Period homage. These days, there’s a rising acceptance that Roc and Reloaded’s affect on underground and mainstream circles is getting stronger by the 12 months. It’s fairly troublesome to think about post-boom bap rappers reminiscent of Meyhem Lauren, Motion Bronson, and the Dump Gawds breaking by means of with out Roc Marciano lighting the torch. Griselda can hint their cultural lineage again to Roc’s affinity for high fashion and his cut-the-middleman mannequin for slanging merch. Freddie Gibbs didn’t actually ascend to prominence till he turned 40, which wouldn’t have occurred with out Roc proving that hip-hop is a rustic for outdated males, whereas the likes of Earl Sweatshirt and J. Cole have lately embraced his hypnotic minimalism. As for producers, there are a number of that Roc can declare as his beatmaking heirs: Conductor Williams’ jazzy dissonance, Daringer’s wraithlike oeuvre, and Nicholas Craven’s alluring mix of blues and soul are all indebted to Marci’s avant-garde atmosphere. Modern-day rap owes loads to Roc.

On “Tek to a Mac,” Roc Marciano raps, “I willed this into existence. Recollections of being broke now distant.” It’s a couplet that harks again to his years in profession survival mode, reminding us all that for his near-incomparable genius, it took a very long time for him to get his acclaim.


Oumar Saleh is a contract popular culture author based mostly within the UK, and has coated music, movie, and wrestling with bylines in Ardour of the Weiss, Little White Lies, Fanbyte, Crack, Yahoo, and NME. You may comply with him on Twitter at @OumarMSaleh.