Rosebuds and Crack Rocks
Valentines arteries clogged with the butters
Your price is Knicks tix and flicks
Ours was stake in the franchise,
We been crowned Megan Markle chicks
Knight these British imperial bricks
Centerfolds of vexiness
Angered in the best outfits
Mani, Pedi, still Alpha, uhh-huh-ughhh
Pretty Hiccup the metronome
Anti-establishment, the problem is this–
Wait! Hold fast! Rollie timed to GPS,
It’s over, nows the time to wave
Polo swordsman, the next power you is my saddle
These are rewindable ejaculates,
Stylistic lyrics o’ sexy rebel frenzy
She open her ears wide
So I can come in sound
There is a disgust in me, a rebel level scholar on the selling of supply and demand when you price it. To seize and persist or to compromise and resist. The greatest creations will be used to work this push and pull and it only hoists the man’s salary caps, his hits and all his isms, Capitalism’s in clips. When we innovate ourselves out of hell it only generates their cells into wells. Wells that collect the waters of our ways.
So I sit here grasping water wondering who will do well when the wells all seem to be drying out. It is lazily accepted that there is nothing new under the sun so the rivers of wax are to all evaporate from one stream and liquidate into another’s small cup. And here this Hip Hop writer is daringly using the pyrex cup to measure the illness. To gauge the works for appreciation and depreciation of all sorts of angles is difficult in an aged music. It’s young in song years compared to its elder Jazz but aged by the drugs of industry commercialization and all the gentrification and self deprecation it affords.
So, I stay writing this in my own element but words on works are filled with verbatim out of our tenements. These journalists just been leech-leechs, bloodsuckers seeking to write themselves into fame by trending a sellout rapper. Like it’s been made known that the published papers on rap ain’t supposed to hurt a hustle. Hot wipe their eyebros after they kiss ass and offer ninety seven roses on grafted bergs as the navigated lane. Fuck that. I skillastrate from a poor and righteous way, that is, a lot of sacrifices and sincere intentions. And it’s needed cause the music, in its fourth decade sold, with the core classic era in our memories, is a clash of innovation and preservation that can leak confusion. Confusion between biting and that wholesome influence, as today’s greats do, and often naturally, catapult off the earlier legends and greats. Remember Rakim to Guru, Remembered In Perfection.
Strolling past trollers, Roc Marciano clearly polarizes all these realities gloriously. His stylistic elevation this decade is his peak and also one of Hip Hop’s. An old interview he and Knowledge the Pirate said they intended to give us what Raekwon and Ghostface weren’t giving. And they ain’t, who can and should anyone? Still, while it’s been less in major ways it has also been dynamically different in some of the hardest ways. This decade, some of the biggest selling underground acts are either biting (i.e. Bronson) or grossly influenced (i.e. the high register inflections, “Ay yo!” buildups and the lower qualitative crack storying over of Westside Gunn) by Tony Starks. And more than many MCs are yelling “fly luxurious shit” and obsessively locked into the lifestyles of the bricks to the lifeless and commentaries on their pharmaceutical dispersal stratagems as the Chef. Roc Marciano is right there being as cliche as any crack rapper with an IG filled with organic photo shoots by exotic cars, disrespecting foes, hoes and ole clothes. And if we keep listening to music on speed scan we won’t knowledge there is so much more…
In 2012, I reviewed two seminal LPs of this #InvisibleRenaissance together, Sean Price’s (#RememberedInPerfection) Mic Tyson and Roc’s Reloaded. Together because they became solo artists with highly influential styles and charismatic repertoires that only could have happened alone. Roc Marciano, with the UN and even all the later cuts with Pete Rock and others, rhymed in fragments that chased the bar. The inflections didn’t hold the emphasis they could and the timing is forced out of pocket at times with slight sloppiness and yet it all worked as a raw hypeness jumping on drums.
But when Reloaded happens, the #PrettyHiccup, that “ugh, ugh, uuugghhh” and the adlibs led by the recognizing, “mmmmmMMMMM” usher in an MC who now emphasizes even the simplest metaphors, the most basic similies and the most predictable death punchlines. It won’t matter what he says so much because his voice is now an instrument. It is a tone deep enough to bass the tale of a gun blow but high enough to falsetto finesse a frank fable of a femme fling. The fragments are now scheduled phrases inflected and ornamented upon us with a remarkable smoothness. It’s Stylistics Supreme and now, what if he actually really been saying something? Who’s listening after those techs and incredible production sampling and layered
Now, with Rosebudd’s Revenge wielding a complete comfort in his new found stylistic mastery, RR2 is then a bathing in the refined waters of his words. The MCing will not surprise because this is a repeat championship where the grind to achieve it all over again is the wonder. A wonder in the development of what all the stylistic greats have done, a wordplay and cleverness in his pitched fragments as a completely unique charismatic figure in Hip Hop. One where we must say that Roc Marciano is a master of what I will name the #Ejaculate. I jokingly wondered on my Power Write show that he must be recording the LP in Polo drawers with sweet ladies basking underneath him. Roc rhymes these ejaculates, shot snippets punctuated by a #PrettyHiccup here or an occasional murmur or other ad lib, completing the process and loading to release another. When those horns and “Hey love, it’s been some years…” loop to end “Muse,” you just missed the ejaculates at their most intense. “Models kissing my olive skin/Body lotion, candles/Naomi Campbell/Smoking a Camel/38 taped up/Look like I broke the hammo, famo/Oh your hammers blow/Imaginary ammo/Trap out the bando/Brand new Lambo/Damn bro/Cut the top, Amber Rose/Plus my hands was froze/All my flows like the cannabis/It was cloned/This is amethyst/You niggas food/I bought rolls for sandwiches/I’m no pimp/This is road management…” you go and rewind. These ejaculates are nearly impossible to do hardcore, more difficult to do when the bars are extremely cut, short and can lose themselves in stream of consciousness that often babbles off into. And yet the focus is there, a disrespect, not merely to the square, but the square diving into the round peg, the USPA blooper trying to coup d’etat a Polo trooper. From “The Sauce,” (“You know I’m sensitive/Don’t let me catch you talking shit/About my mama’s biscuits/Emptyin’ this biscuit/It’s risky biz/Nigga, my Dickies fit you big/Get em hemmed…”) to “Corniche” (“Stop riding dicks/Choose a new muscle group…”), the darts lend themselves to clever similes (“The snub nose–Muggsy Bogues/The Calico–Mutombo” – “Bohemian Grove”). These highly original ejaculates also carry his theme in engaging arrogance we brothers need–spit jolts of rebellious empowerment (“Yeah, this is black-owned, this ain’t dough the crackers loan” – “Bohemian Grove”).
See, Roc Marciano is a unique stylist, I would say honorably inspired by classic works prior. Now, he describes his thematic sense as anti-establishment and I’d salute that true. But it ain’t near revolutionary because the peak of the crack life into an empowered Black life of financial independence is of merit. Yet, it was also established that the Knowledge of Self was a core tenet when Rae and Ghost cuban linxed it in the year Born Power. Listen closely to Roc’s career and that KOS, Roc knows of but I will judge unfairly with only lyrics and aligning features and say that is only a subtle facet not mined to its greatest worth. Today’s music the KOS is often a slang tech instead of a thematic requisite and I’d look to Rae and Ghost trailing away from it in their own song chronicles than blame Roc or any descendants first. Still, with KOS so trivialized and left as a mere exclusive punchline, we can see how a Bronson, a pork filetting chef who clearly has altered his work into Ghostface territory breaking the ethos of #OriginalCreativity, can break bread and bars on “Corniche” ruining the most stellar song on the album continuing his gentrification of dilution. And I can’t see the reasoning that an obese white man being “funky” can override the smell of bitten flesh that really cannot be healed by turning a deaf ear. And these are where contradictions are ignored into hypocrisies for this listener and I will say others–those rare 5% within the 5% of them. To the majority of listeners, this is irrelevant but where does the music go? Who cares, most say, as it’s here the way it will be. The business of the artist continues but there creations score us so I naively stay concerned with what we do with these collected songs beyond the purchase of them…
And a purchase is still the least RR2 deserves. All the vocal ornamentation what goes unnoticed when the sinister of “Kill You” in Roc’s tone is backstroking in the pocket, the layering of “Tent City” that is an ideal example of turning simple chopped verses into complex sound flows. Roc really works on the spacing between his words and over time has us gliding with him in or out of the pocket. There’s also the rhyming bravado extreme showing and proving the respect declared on “Respected,” with “Peep my garage, three sixes yeah that’s the demon code/Be it so, I’m not evil though (haha ugh)/Nigga’s emo, this the cheat code/Don’t get your cheek blown/Your body don’t possess not one street bone…”
Musically, I have constantly lamented that we hear the same breaks and the same samples used again and again. All with such bad variation, we really have made the best of Hip Hop, what we often call Boom Bap cause so much other shit sucks, an even worse cliche than any criminal endeavor. On this Bitter Dose wax, as all of Roc’s solo career, the sampling is sheer beauty. And he continues to challenge Boom Bap convention (mostly created by gentrifiers in the culture needing a hard sounding drum but never a hard building lyric) by using samples naked with sometimes almost no equalizing. Sometimes, Roc’s vocals almost get lost in the soul soars if you cant compartmentalize and separate the sounds right (i.e. “Tent City”)
Still, we bounce and bop in our walk on Roc’s ejaculates spit at weaklings and onto lavish ladies. And we even sing along constantly, whether the LP is on or off. Ooooooh, wooo, wooo wahhhhhhh, Animoss’ “Happy Endings” goes gloriously that even Roc gotta give us some Oh, Baby’s. Those synths on Marci’s “Saks Fifth” that sound like the score for a man who gets to shop there alone upon the night’s off hours. The crate behind “Bedspring King” that must’ve made Roc chuckle as we did when we heard Guess’ bed creaking through the basslines and moans. The holy light that engulfs when he drones through the specially chosen wealths on “Power,” a beautiful distant humming and guitar licks licking and plucking off. Damn! And that fucking “Corniche,” where the guitar strums us right in setting up the most lovely flute, that balladeering brass floating us in the airs of dark and grit. Roc even admits The Bitter Dose is a little sloppy once he finds that right crate and it’s a deliberately incomplete style. There is a difference between his stellar pupil, Ka, whom turns his samples into a completely thought out score as he did throughout the classic Honor Killed the Samurai. Instead, Roc leaves lots of space open that isn’t filled, even with his cut and stab street sutras. Almost nothing is done by Marciano on “The Sauce,” really, just a loop, looped and scooped. The original for Animoss’ “Bohemian Grove” is amplified and sped but chill, nothing else is done. Or needed. The crates dug for is so lost an art that when great producers find crates they fuck them up on the same drums or chop it to hell and the glory of the original we aren’t allowed to find and love. I want to love some newfound Soul, Alma con mi Alma, and that’s the formula of intrigue Roc succeeds with. These crates really are him of a different era and this way of music making almost parallels himself to it. And for all its simplicity, supposed laziness and the possibilities of incomplete work, the thematic sense of Roc and his every message is expressed completely. And we are amazed by the music because they all groove, silked bangers that exude and fulfill the MC’s lyric intentions. That’s what production is supposed to achieve. And it does
Incredible careers, great albums and stellar MCs aren’t just to be lauded but also criticizing, studied, analyzed, learned from in the midst of enjoyment. This #InvisibleRenaissance has a tremendous gray area as it works to survive and thrive past the veils of trill trap and sucker slap covering it. Many talents are from lives in the middle of all these hells. Roc Marciano, I think, is one of them and he preserves his learnings from legends as Large Pro to greats as Busta. But he innovates too much and it is provoking others’ greatness as well as influencing the next wave of niche biters.
I declare that in the history of Hip Hop, we will see Roc Marciano as one of the most unique and dynamic descendants of the legends before him. On deeper listens we will note the same contradictions as today but we will also revel in the greatness as well. RR2 will be an ideal example of this all. Absolutely a bitter dose to the complexities of a countercultural music fighting for its life to mouthpiece the fighting oppressed.
PURCHASE RR2 HERE
The organization of these principles around a counterculture, an expressive arts of creation that uplifts the ideas and thoughts of an oppressed people, is why I’m an honored builder amongst legends, knighted by heroes of Medina (Rakim Supreme Shabazz Allah/Rudy Lo, Thirstin Howl the 3rd, Bonz Malone) to further create in my element as a Hip Hop Writer (creative author/principled journalist/honoring historian) of #ArtOnArt & #ScienceOnMusic. So the world may find love that locks in with the action of loyalty though they may never find another writer with my kind of grammar…
Living and sharing the pillars of:
Peace, Sunez Allah