Blunted bass lines, psychedelic loops, sparse jazz samples, and understated thick drum kicks have all come to define Roc Marciano’s aesthetic over the past four years. It’s a translucent minimalism where his words fill in “empty space” like bullets at the gun range. His music feels like smoking a cig wearing a big-ass jacket on a cold night or grabbing a nude woman’s body in a hot empty room. It’s self assured, melodic and soulful. Sure some have come to call him one dimensional, but Roc owns this lane. The quiet violence, amoral narratives, and hustler’s ambition of his music come across like an unfolding series of novels or movies. On Marci Beaucoup there is no deviation from the norm, just more chilling bravado and calm lavish exploits. The only difference is Marci assembles his rap a-alikes similar to an all-star line-up, while he bats clean up.
The evocative “Love Means” has Evidence start things off like a seasoned vet. His voice a perfect contrast to the melodious yet ghostly vocal sample. The beat moves around Roc and Ev’s raps, while both rappers make sure you are in respect of their abilities. “Squeeze” follows and is best described as broken bones in the snow music. Ka, Guilty Simpson, and Roc are in no rush to construct their images as the fuzzy sax sample and haunting vocal chop leads listeners into each chamber of their verses. It’s like you’re lounging at the most gangster poet’s cafe ever. Frequent partner-n-rhyme Knowledge the Pirate appears later in the menacing street escapes of “Drug Lord”. Shards of strings and organs crash against the bouncing bass while Roc and Knowledge let you know how their product gets them paid.
Yet, what is really interesting about Marci Beaucoup is how it reveals the idiosyncrasies and fragility of his sound. Roc uses very moody yet bare-bones production techniques that allow his personality and rhymes to fill in the sonic abstractions. He forms couplets from very concise yet vivid images and patterns that rhyme internally and externally and bounce within the sound almost creating another element to the beat. When the rapper does not have the personality or images to “fill in” the production the songs nearly fall flat: “Dollar Bitch” featuring Maffew Ragazino or “Trying To Come Up” featuring Boldy James being prime examples. The opposite happens when the rappers have as much persona as ability “Soul Music” featuring AG and “Willie Manchester” featuring S.A.S. being two of Marci Beaucoup best moments. The latter is actually one of the few times I’ve really enjoyed a UK rapper on a song.
This all makes for one of the better compilations of like-minded rappers over one sound in quite a while. Usually this kind of albums falls apart because too many sounds and voices are vying for the hype or the other artist’s audience. Marci Beaucoup is more Pete Rock’s Soul Survivor than DJ Khaled’s infinite gauntlet of mediocre and forgettable street anthems. Marci invited the guest into his world and they functioned as parts to his whole. No strange collabs, no song for the street, song for the club, song for the ladies, and song for the heads: check, check, check. These are songs for Marci fans point blank. By now you should know why you’re here. If you’re over it, get the fuck out the way and let us vibe out to his shit. I know I thank the rap gawds for Roc Marciano whenever he releases new music. You should as well.
4 out of 5
You can buy the album on Amazon.