Last year Roc Marciano found critical acclaim with the insular live-nigga era tome Marcberg. In 2010 Gangrene (Oh No & Alchemist) also released their acid backpack rap album, Gutter Water, to the delight of those who bothered to listen. Now with half of the year gone the three have joined like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to give us their self-titled EP Greneberg. Roc Marci’s calm double-barrel shotty rhymes have nicely been placed within Gangrene’s chilling haze of collage-styled boom-bap. Without fret and a pair of brass knucks I’ll say Greneberg is the best 25 minutes of rap music this year: a deranged compiling of astral loops and tuff talk with presence and charisma aggressively moving through seven songs with no filler.
Greneberg starts off with “Momma Told Me” a chiseled melody of funky muzzled horns and a church organ rest under Marciano’s couplets like a baby in a cradle. Roc Marci proceeds to spits three minutes of vivid stink-face inducing similes such as, “I’m hard to hit like porcupine pussy” and “you aint tuff / hang it up like a Basquiat”. As is always the case with Roc Marci, the appeal of his lyrics is carried by his phrasing, spacing and vocal tone. After a second Roc solo “Hoard 90”, all three guest show up for the pistol-n-pillow to the face sounds of “Jet Luggage”. Among horn stabs, bad note piano samples, and a woozy bass, Alchemist actually delivers the strongest rewind worthy verse that may cause doubters to quell their hate. The swaggerin’ cool of “Papercuts” follows, and is easily the album’s gem: a song that sits within Greneberg like a trip to the nice part of town after months around the neglected and forgotten.
Ultimately what makes Greneberg work so well is that its experimentations exist within the parameters of rap traditionalism. It struts its identity in contrast to the popular, but without bitching about the popular. Alc, Oh No and Roc are seasoned vets that know why, who, and what they are rapping for. Songs like “New Shit” and “Jaws” are different tones for the same objective: make rap for heads who love to dig in crates, have been in fights, and don’t need every song to be about emotions. As Roc Marci says amidst chopped to confetti vocal samples and pianos to begin “Jaws”, “this aint Kid Cudi / this G shit, this is gully”. Greneberg will have the softest and dorkiest elements within us ice-grillin’ in rap fiend glee for months to come.