Marlon Craft Puts His Competition On Notice With A Blistering Freestyle (Video)

Manhattan native Marlon Craft has been making the best of his opportunities by delivering top-notch freestyles that show off his skills. For those not in the know, Craft came across Rap honestly and as the son of a Jazz musician. From there, he showcased an adept style that instantly endeared him to Hip-Hop fans across the web. A graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., where he designed his own major, Urban Education and Social Justice, Craft moved back to Manhattan Plaza and began making freestyle videos and posting them online.

It was there that he exhibited his vociferous flows over beats, and packaged songs into his first of two EPs in 2016. After a feature on Masta Ace & Marco Polo’s acclaimed A Breukelen Story in 2018, Marlon Craft has proven himself to be ahead of the pack in 2019 with Funhouse Mirror. Despite not being selected for this year’s XXL Freshman list, the New York MC still showcased why his wordplay is as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar. Craft brought his brand of uniqueness to HOT 97 with Funkmaster Flex to leave it up to the viewers if he can flat-out rap his ass off.

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After explaining his background to Flex, the two get right down to brass tacks for #140 of the infamous freestyle series. DJ Juanito drops the needle on a Mafioso-styled beat for Craft to curate to and the Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan native lines up a beastly bevy of bars for our appetites. “Don’t compare me to them other dudes you about to compare me to / Ain’t worth about the time to get ate / Man, they barely food,” he spits right out the gate. In what sounded like an attempt to express his intentions to the Hip-Hop world, Craft laces up his LeBron’s to let the competition know that he’s not sweating them.

Unafraid and unabashed, Craft’s uniqueness on the M-I-C comes from his consistent cadence and captivating usage of the consonants: “Chips, I bet a few / Lost some but dope is my set of moves / Now, I got a better view / So even though my count down, I’m still like… two hands ahead of dudes / And trust me, you can slapped with either, I’m tellin’ you / Only thing saving you is how crazy be my schedule / Try’na balance malice while putting together clips for online / Like I was Pusha in ’09 / Speeding where I don’t speak the language on road signs / And for me, go-time is go-time.

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With all his energy focused on the folks at home viewing this on their screens, Marlon Craft is coming for the competition’s fan-base through sheer hard work, effort, and some buzz worthy bars that made for a “run that back” experience: “Look, I don’t need validation / I’m calibrating / Get respect, don’t have to chase it / O.G.’s could f*ck themselves, if need be / Should I dare masturbate, I’m not Kraft / Kill anyone in his path, you can cry, but do not laugh / You’ll be sorry / Frustration and bitterness, those past methods / I always had skills, just ain’t have leverage / Sh*t, I was throwing punches like Cass’ Clay / But like Ali I needed time to hone my last name / I need legacy, I’m looking past fame.

From then on, the former Team Backpack champ of The Mission Underground competition delivered a closing 2019 salvo to those who did make the XXL Freshman’s list: “Only work with family and legends, that’s the criteria / And ain’t one Freshman that’s strikin’ fear in the rear of my head interior / I ain’t with Rap squabbles, I just want to be cheerier / Mostly I’m a sad dude / ‘Cause this is my least valued currency, but sh*t, cash rules / No tattoos / My exterior blank, but my sleeves filled with my heart and all my past wounds,” he spits. “I’m in the bathroom doing power poses, fighting anxiety / I’m still mad cool, I just don’t gotta try to be.

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On singles such as “Shallow,” featuring Dizzy Wright, and “Gang Sh*t,” the latter which dropped recently in June — Craft engages the controversies and injustices of the day. In the latter, he plays in the song’s accompanying music video three roles that are as American as apple pie in this country: a racist white police officer, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and a Black man serving prison time for an armed robbery. Such issues are important to the MC, which makes this particular flip of lines interesting as the music industry could use another advocate to carry the Hip-Hop torch across the bridge to the other side:

But any loss is just a prelude / ‘Cause you can turn L’s to a W, if you just adjust the angle / The sh*t that hurt you is the sh*t that make you / Growth comes at the point of resistance and if it’s one thing I can do, sh*t, is ma’f*ckin’ train, duke / So I held myself back until I became a monster / So shout-out to all my fears, feel like they my sponsors / They in concert / Gave me conscious / Made me conquer / Made me bonkers / Made me ponder how to bump with all this sh*t that made me somber / Almost got ate, but ’round 24, it made me Mamba.

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Funhouse Mirror, released on Same Plate/Sony, features production by Statik Selektah and Black Milk.

#BonusBeat: Marlon Craft’s “Do The Work” music video: