Roc Marciano’s rap career has been longstanding, but solo-wise, it seems like the veteran emcee has a lot more gas in the tank. He made his landmark debut with Marcberg LP in 2010 and since then, his music’s been one of the preeminent hubs for really grimy New York street rap and/or delicately crafted word-schemes that reveal obscure, yet appropriate metaphorical references.
Citations of everyone from Anna Kournikova to Gloria Estefan litter the verses of the Hempstead, Long Island native’s recently released Rosebudd’s Revenge album. The wordplay is perhaps its most notable element and fits in perfectly with Marci’s eerie and heavily sample-driven instrumentals, some of which are provided by the emcee himself.
It’s been four years since the release of Marci Beaucoup, his generally well-received last LP. Since then, Marciano’s been experiencing life and sharpening his wordplay all while recording.
During a recent interview with UGHH, Roc Marci detailed putting together his latest work, among other topics. He says his recording process is natural with how he lives his life. His everyday experiences simply inspire what later ends up on wax. “Push the pen with a vengeance” is how he’d describe it.
What’s been up recently besides strictly music-based stuff?
Outside of music, I got a couple of business-side things. I’ve got a couple things coming in the tech world. [I’m] living life, you know, family and stuff like that, so yeah. I’ve got a couple of things coming outside of music.
You put out Rosebudd’s Revenge in February. It’s been bumping in my headphones and the whip for the last two weeks or so. How has the reaction to it been so far from what you’ve seen?
It’s been very positive, man. I’ve got no complaints.
This is your first project since 2013 with Marci Beaucoup. How has this almost four-year gap provided you the experiences necessary to put out a project like this?
I feel like I get better every day. It all depends if I’m in the recording mode. I’m not always in recording mode. I recorded a lot of music while I wasn’t putting out music. I was completing other projects and things I’ve been working on. I started on Rosebudd’s Revenge and then I stopped, and then jumped back in it and finished it in probably like a couple weeks or something.
You’re also a producer as well, so how much does that affect your mindset when another producer is working with you. Is it more bouncing off ideas and then you both come together with it?
I let everybody do they thing, man. We just compare notes. Pass tracks back-and-forth like, “This is what I’m on.” Then they say, “This is what I’m on.” Then we kind of start to figure it out like, “Ok, this is where you’re going, aiight.” I kind of give them a vibe and they send me something, and I’m like, “Right around here is where I’m trying to bake.” We just communicate through it and put beats away and join styles and just compare notes. It’s kind of simple.
On “Marksmen” you feature Ka—someone you’ve worked with a lot over the years—and I think you two on a track together is perfect because you have similar styles but different content and different flows. You also challenge each other to do something a little different when you’re on a song together. Talk about that relationship and how you work creatively when you’re in the booth together.
Working with Ka. Hmm. I mean you know, Ka’s incredible, man. I’ve felt like that since the first time I heard him. It’s just always a pleasure working with somebody that you know is going to deliver, so I really can’t say much more about it ‘cause it’s like working with family. It’s actually just fun. We push each other. It’s not like who’s going to get off on who or nothing like that. It’s just like, “Yo, let’s just do a fly joint.”
He does always bring the bars, so how much does that affect—not even in a competition way—how you prepare when doing a song together?
I think with my history of my bars, I don’t have to be pushed by anybody. Bar for bar, I don’t really have nothing to prove. My discography speaks for itself. I don’t really feel I need to compete. I just do what I do and that’s that, you know what I’m saying?
Where do you see yourself at this point in your career and how have you grown from Flipmode Squad in the late ‘90s to your earlier solo material like Marcberg to now in 2017 with Rosebudd’s Revenge?
I feel great. I definitely have made history. I brought a lot of game to the game, made a nice amount of money doing what I love to do. It’s a success story coming from where I come from. I feel great. What more can I say? I’m blessed.
The first time I heard you as a solo artist was on GZA’s “Short Race” from Pro Tools. You, in your own production, use a lot of very obscure samples within some of your best songs, which is almost RZA-esque. Obviously Wu-Tang means a lot being an emcee from New York, but how specifically did they inspire you when you were beginning to rap?
[They were a] tremendous influence. Wu-Tang Clan, them the older gods. That’s part of the foundation. That’s how I feel about the Clan, man. I got a lot of love for them.
When you put out music what do you want people to take away from it even if they spin your new project just once?
I just want them to enjoy it. Enjoy it. Take it for what it is. I’m not trying to school n***as all day. I’m trying to enjoy myself. I love what I do. If brothas digging it, if they can ride to it, good. It’s really that simple to me. I don’t really put more thought into it than that.
I like the instrumental switch-ups you offer on this project within songs. You did it with your “Rosebudd’s Revenge Part. 1” video, but it’s really prevalent in “Herringbone” and “Pray 4 Me.” What was the inspiration behind that because you don’t see that that much these days?
I do that because that’s fun. It keeps things interesting. That’s pretty much why I do it. It’s pretty much like hip-hop meets progressive rock, right? “You never know what might happen” kind of shit in a song so, I do it ‘cause that’s fun.
When you hear a sample that provides something different, how do you determine its value for a song? Like what makes you go, “Oooh, that’s gotta be in something”?
It’s really about if it matches what I’m trying to say, what I’m feeling at the time. I make a lot of beats when I’m making beats. I’ll get a bunch of records and make a lot of beats because I don’t make beats all the time. I’m kind of going through the records, and I’m taking visual photos so to speak. Anything that stands out to me, I’ll fuck with it. I put all those notes to the side and I’ll go through them and depending on how I’m feeling that day, I put the beats on like clothes. That’s how I’m feeling today, so I’m going to jump on this.
You were on De La Soul’s album last year via “Property of Spitkicker.com.” What did it mean to be a part of not just a legendary group’s LP, but also being on one that got high praise?
I’ve always been a De La Soul fan, man. I feel like they’re part of the foundation to me also. I look at those dudes like those guys are big brothers in the game. I get a lot of inspiration from De La Soul. They make some of my favorite music in life so for those brothers to reach out for me to spit on something, do a record, what can I say? I’m honored, man. Calls like that, that’s what it’s all about.
What’s your relationship like with Busta Rhymes currently? Do you guys still keep up with one another?
Busta, that’s my brother. I was just with Busta not long ago. Probably like two weeks ago I was on set of his video. We was shooting a video out in Cali. He got some new shit ready to drop. It’s crazy. That’s my brother, man. I fucks with Bus real heavy.
I know you’re a big NBA fan, Knicks fan. The big story now is Phil Jackson’s missteps this season. I love asking New Yorkers about the direction of the Knicks since it’s been a while since they’ve had success?
Ah man, you had to go there [laughs].
It starts in the front office, man. That’s all I can say. It’s time to clean house. We need a clean slate. Shit is worse than it’s damn near ever been. What more can you do? You got to scrap it and start over. That’s all I can say about it. Shit is a bust right now, unfortunately. I love my Knicks, but it ain’t nothing to talk about. It ain’t even a story right now.
Does Carmelo Anthony have to go as a part of starting over?
Honestly, I feel like if Melo wants to leave and wants to win of course he’s got to go ‘cause he ain’t gonna win here. I think Melo should go. I want Melo to win. When they was trying to do that trade with the Cavs, I wanted it to go down to see him get a chance to win. We need to just scrap everything. Keep Kristaps [Porzingis]. I like [Willy] Hernangómez, I like [Mindaugas] Kuzminskas. We got some good young players but we need to do something with the rest of the organization. The front office needs to get some of those people out and put Melo on a championship team. That would be good for him. We in a rebuilding process right now.
I live in Ohio and am a Cavaliers fan. We weren’t too sure about getting Melo, especially if it meant giving up Kevin Love…
Melo’s firepower. No matter how you slice it. Melo is firepower, and it look like with [Kevin] Durant on the floor, you could use an extra gun.
Right. I can see that. Lastly though, what’s next for you now that the album’s out and the people have it?
There’s a lot more music to come. I’ve got more visuals, things like that, staying busy. As for touring, when it warms up, I’m going to go out on the road, touch a few spots. That’s pretty much it.