Roc Marciano’s New Album Is The Latest Indie Uppercut To The Streaming Model

Today (March 9), Roc Marciano’s RR2: The Bitter Dose became available on all major streaming platforms. The album released late last month, and was contained to Roc’s online store for download sale and physical copy pre-order. As a 20-year Hip-Hop veteran, it was calculated move made by the former Flipmode Squad member and U.N. co-founder. Looking back, he alleges that his experiment has already proven to be a success.

Around the time of the release of the first installment of Rosebudd’s Revenge, Roc Marciano told Cypress Hill’s B-Real that he had two main goals; to show “some growth, maturity” in his art, but also to develop himself as a businessman.

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With that cult-lauded project, Marciano said that he wanted “everything to be all me [and] have my personal touch.” This was especially important as he was now “more independent than ever.” Since parting ways with Busta Rhymes in the 2000s, Roc Marciano embarked on a solo career when he recorded 2010 Marcberg (using studio blocks for Q-Tip’s The Renaissance). That Fat Beats Records release garnered critical praise. Marci’ followed with releases via tenures at Decon (Mass Appeal) and Man Bites Dog Records. After working with these others, Roc and his team went for self. In 2018, the team upped the ante.

RR2: The Bitter Dose released on February 27. The New York MC/producer refused to share it via any streaming services. Instead, he directed fans to download the album it via his online store for $30 a pop.

As Marciano shares in a recent interview with DJBooth‘s Andy James, that strategy paid off. “It’s been amazing. The sh*t is printing money. The return on investment [for making RR2: The Bitter Dose] happened in a day. I was in the black in a day, thinking about how to buy Rolex with BTC the following week. How do you like them apples?,” he said. Roc says he received “sneaker money” residuals despite millions of streams turn to recouping-in-full, strictly from core-support.

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Marciano’s decision to return to the pre-streaming model reflects a frustration with a belief in Hip-Hop that artists should let fans have their work gratis, as he told DJBooth: “Hip-Hop is a business where everybody expects you to give, give, give and get nothing in return. Give me a free CD, give me this, give me that. Let me get a verse!” Previously, Roc has played into this belief. He made free mixtapes (see: 2013’s The Pimpire Strikes Back). However, fans have proven that the multi-talent’s art has real worth, despite the culture of “free.”

Even as an indie artist, Roc says that some of music’s biggest stars have the formula right. “That’s a part of the music business they gotta fix. Ask Pharrell. Ask Adele. If they unhappy with the payout, you know I’m unhappy with the payout!,” Roc stresses. Adele, Taylor Swift, and other Pop music chart-toppers have held music away from streaming platforms entirely, asking fans for traditional sale transactions to receive releases. Marci’ continues, “This is a business model that makes sure that from here on out, whenever brothers put out music, nothing is in vain.” For an artist who rhymes about sidewalk economics in his verses, This week, Roc vented on social media that he needs to eat before “bloodsuckers” get their “scraps,” referring to the likes of Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, and others.

Roc Marciano has proven to become a key figure in today’s Hip-Hop scene. His influence as a producer and MC can be felt everywhere. From MCs in the Shady/Griselda Records camp (Conway The Machine, Westside Gunn, Benny The Butcher) to new generation MCs such as Mach Hommy, Tha God Fahim, Fly Anakin and Al Divino who are reinvigorating the underground Hip-Hop scene along the East Coast.

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These younger MCs seem to agree with Marciano’s model of doing business, frequently selling their work for prices topping the $100 mark and not suffering any consequences. The Earl Sweatshirt-produced Mach Hommy EP, Fete des Morts AKA Dia De Las Muertos, for example, retails at $111.11.

Rosebudd’s Revenge 2 moves the Roc Marciano aesthetic forward, while staying true to his trademark delivery as an MC that merges an urgent confessional tone, layering image upon image to create a mood of menace and secrecy.

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What may feel new on RR2 is Roc’s radical use of Hip-Hop elements, long gone is a dependence of vocal samples – save for one skit – to set the scene, in their place is an emphasis on sound texture, see “Tent City” and “CVs” enveloping everything.

Roc’s longstanding interest in turning attention away from the drums continues on the album so that all the different elements to jostle for space, in often surprising ways keeping it fresh. Something else new for a Roc Marciano album: a focus on relationships, even a dash of romance.

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Marci’ produced seven of the 14 tracks, working alongside Element, Don C and Animoss. In addition to that now-available streaming option, listeners can buy Rosebudd’s Revenge 2: The Bitter Dose from the artist’s official store.

Photograph by Bearsnchills.