Marlon Craft Says He’s Mos Def, Talib Kweli & Nas Combined In A Fiery Freestyle

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Marlon Craft is out to uphold a rich tradition of New York City Hip-Hop. From Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen, this MC put in work on last year’s exceptional A Breukelen Story album from Masta Ace & Marco Polo—named one of Ambrosia For Heads‘ best of ’18. Previously, Marlon has been behind a string of successful DIY singles, EPs, and 2017’s The Tunnel’s End.

However, 2019 marks a breakthrough for the Craft. Last month, he released Funhouse Mirror, which garnered tremendous attention on the heels of provocative concept video, “Gang Sh*t.” A cross-section of rappers showed respect to the commentary on racism on the force, in hate-groups, and behind the prison walls. Elsewhere, the Same Plate Entertainment/Sony Records LP features production from trusted beat creators Black Milk, Statik Selektah, and DJ Skizz.

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Now, Marlon takes his talents to Sway In The Morning, facing off in the “5 Fingers Of Death” challenge with a kick-in-the-door display. With DJ Wonder spinning some ONYX, Marlon begins, “Homie, you can save ya pound like a British investor / Cool table-ass rappers, I ain’t come here to network / Student of this game, but since them AND1 mixtapes, knew I’d become a professor / Long as the lungs in my chest work / I do this to breathe, so don’t ever ask me ‘How come?’ / Sh*t, that vision was clouded, they used to doubt son / They only care about income; I’m worried about the outcome / My flow’ll make Jay Electronica drop the album.

As the beat flips (and the camera does too), Marlon continues with substance-based rhyming. “Addicted to our gadgets, the whole world become an arcade / Corporations played us, convinced us it was our game / Act like they gonna put follower-counts on all of our graves / It’s ‘f*ck the world and wipe away ya sins on ya off-day’ / Let us all pray / Honestly, I’d rather not / I don’t know how to save the world, but I had some thoughts / But I ain’t come to preach / Rappers be too numb to speak.” Just as he did with “Gang Sh*t,” Marlon’s lyrics tackle racism, even if it’s something he may not understand firsthand. “There’s a lot that got’ be spoken / And ’cause I look like me, the white kids copy quote it / So I feed ’em raw bars, but I Te-Nishi coat-it / In some sh*t that ought be spoken / Truth glazed, if you will / Like, why we lovin’ the culture, but not the bodies though / We co-sign the oppression, purchase the trauma, yo / Same country raised the roof raised Dylann Roof / Sh*t, we murdered King and gave that kid Burger King / So I ain’t come here to blow up quick / A couple homies that I grown up wit’ / Any spur of the moment, them boys’ll pop like they was coachin’ Kawhi / And you can see it in their eyes, I ain’t changin’ their minds.

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Marlon continues over a vintage JAY-Z instrumental, talking about his Big Apple upbringing, and the evil forces at play in the world. He also makes some bold comparisons to the MCs who inspired him. “This mothaf*ckin’ grilled chicken cost me $8.50 / I ain’t in the mood, lil’ yuppie, don’t you play with me / I grew up in the New York where we don’t play that / These mothaf*ckas came for Shake Shack / F*ck outta here / Man, I’m like J.R. Writer-meets-mighty Mos / Or if ’05 Cassidy was woke / I’m the Hell’s Kitchen Nasir Jones / With some of Kweli’s prose / That’s widely spoke of / And held in regards by most / Of whom, who I would care about their opinion.” Craft speaks powerful words as Sway nods along, impressed.

After the artist wraps up his freestyle, Sway proclaims, “I been in the room with the greatest. I know the feeling! In all the years we’ve done this, I don’t know when I’ve seen Heather B give somebody a pound after the verse.” Heather admits there have been a few, but less than six. “Nah, you nice,” she tells Marlon. Oswin Benjamin also looks on, praising his fellow New York Rap giant on the rise. A few moments later, the artist with the initials “M.C.” states, “I care very much.” The New Yorker‘s Andrew Marantz just published a profile of the hometown artist.

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Funhouse Mirror features Dizzy Wright and Pro Era/Beast Coast’s Nyck Caution.

#BonusBeat: Marlon Craft’s speaking about the responsibility of whites in Hip-Hop to Sway In The Morning: