Roc Marciano Influenced A Decade Of Hip-Hop. He Looks Back At How He Did It (Video)
Roc Marciano’s Rap career began before Y2K. However, the 2010s were a definitive decade for the Hempstead, Long Island MC/producer. After running with Flipmode Squad, co-founding The U.N., and putting in work with Pete Rock, Wu-Tang Clan, and others, the artist stepped forth. In 2010, the man born Rahkeim Meyer released his debut project, Marcberg, a record entirely self-produced. The album recently made Ambrosia For Heads‘ Top 25 Rap Albums Of The Decade. Just weeks ago, Roc book-ended the 2010s with his latest independent release, Marcielago. This is the most recent LP that Marci sold directly to fans two weeks earlier than adding to widespread streaming platforms.
With a career spanning over two decades, the years since Marcberg‘s release have proven to be some of Marciano’s most prolific. Recently, Roc Marciano sat down with B. Dot and Elliott Wilson for a candid interview with the Rap Radar Podcast. Marci discusses his catalog of work that has truly helped define the last 10 years in Hip-Hop.
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Early in the interview, B. Dot recalls a line that stuck out to him. “The landscape changed when I went against the grain / And ni**as wasn’t quick to embrace.” Dot asks what Roc meant by these words. The MC explains (11:45), “I mean, those minimalistic beats. People listening to my production thinking, ‘Okay, you know, some of the tracks had drums, but a lot of ’em didn’t.’ They be sitting around waiting, you know, ‘When the drums gon’ come in?’ You know what I’m saying? Or whatever the case may be. I think it was the minimalistic approach. A lotta people was like, [grimaces], you know, a little standoffish to it.”
Then, Roc describes how his music was the catalyst for the shift in Hip-Hop. “I was the catalyst. I was, you know what I’m sayin’? It’s not about my feeling, it’s about the truth and facts. If you date 10 years back, wasn’t nobody doing it like this. Like, it was 10 years ago when I made Marcberg and then Reloaded and stuff like that. So, this sound was kinda like abandoned and also I felt like I even cavaliered, even went further as far as like the approach, this approach in making music.”
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To follow, Elliott Wilson quotes a couple of praising critiques of Marciano’s work. Elliott reads (13:00), “I’m gonna tell you what a couple of people said, critics out there. This guy Rob [at] Unkut. So he says, ‘Love these Drake think-pieces about how influential he is, meanwhile Roc Marciano dictated the sound of the last decade of underground Rap. And then I got Fake Shore Drive [founder Andrew Barber] from Chicago jumped in, he said, ‘I said it before and I’ll say it again: Roc Marci created his own genre. His fingerprints are all over the place. He deserves all the accolades and much more.’ Cause now with a decade, it makes people look at it in a context.”
Marci owns these praises. “Who had this type of influence for 10 years man? You’d be hard to find any artist that’s 10 years in the game and making music and still making music that’s relevant and people even care about they projects. For one, that’s flattering in itself. But it didn’t feel like 10 years though. I’ll be honest: it don’t feel like it. I feel like I look younger and prettier than I did 10 years ago. So it’s like kinda weird, but I’ll take it. Thank God. Cause I think if I was looking all crazy and washed up, [there] probably wouldn’t be no hype behind it. They be like, ‘This old man, if you don’t get outta here.’ It’s a blessing, man, that people even acknowledge it still 10 years later, man.”
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Deeper in the interview (35:00), Marciano describes how he views his own legacy in the game. “My influence in the game is apparent. You know, you can see it. You can see it. It’s all over the place. So, I look at it as a great thing. It’s not morbid at all. It’s wonderful, ’cause there was no place at the table for this, when I was doing this. There was no place at the table. Now look at it. I’m at the table. So, you know, it’s a beautiful thing man. My legacy is wonderful.”
The close friend of Q-Tip continues, “The essence of this music is never gonna go anywhere. People gon’ always be interested in [it]. It’s what people are doing in the streets is always gonna be. Just the basics of Hip-Hop is always going to be there. They’ll have other fads, but this [underground sound] ain’t goin’ nowhere. Just beats to the rhymes—beats to the rhymes. That’s not goin’ nowhere. Beats to the rhymes. Two turntables and a mic type sh*t. I take pride in that, that my music sounds like that. Like a dude could have my loop and be like ungh, bringin’ it back and I could be on the mic killin’ it and the music sounding like that.” In the conversation, Roc Marciano praises the work of Griselda and other artists that adhere to that approach. He has been an early collaborator with the likes of that crew as well as Action Bronson, Your Old Droog, Meyhem Lauren, and Willie Da Kid.
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Last year, Roc Marciano released his eighth studio project, Marcielago. The record features involvement from Westside Gunn and Alchemist.
Elsewhere in the interview, Roc Marciano talks about his deep respect for collaborators like DJ Muggs and Alchemist. He describes an amazing crate-digging in Portland, Oregon, and admits that he took significant time to off to be a father to his child. Meanwhile, looking at his business model, the double-threat admits that his business is booming, affording him a nicer lifestyle.
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New music from Roc Marciano is currently on the Official AFH Playlist.