Download: Roc Marciano, “Raw Deal”


Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.

The long-in-the-works debut album from Long Island rapper Roc Marciano, Marcberg (out now via Fat Beats), is the ultimate subway listen–a mix of murky Walkman-ready boom-thwap, the subterranean feel of Raekwon’s water-damaged Purple Tape, and labyrinthine rhyme schemes that require the deepest of headphone listening. It’s a defiantly New York rap record, and long overdue, as the veteran MC has put in work as a member of the Flipmode Squad and nimble ’00s crew The UN. His experience shows in the effortless, workmanlike rapping on Marcberg, where Marciano displays an ease with wordplay that is downright superhuman–think Biggie’s freestyles or Smif-N-Wessun most undisputed classics. Check the album’s best track, “Raw Deal,” where the first line of every verse still rhymes with the last, a constant spiral of assonance tumbling and unraveling:

Slow-drag ’em, this is how you go platinum
Chrome magnum, rolling in my gold Aston
Blow past em, ask ’em, cold smashin’, rope and gag ’em…

Download: [audio-1]

Q&A: Roc Marciano

What inspired “Raw Deal” lyrically? Especially the way the whole first verse kind of rhymes with itself?

It just came out like that. I do that from time to time… I wrote that record kind of quick. I think it took a day. To me the track reminded me of “Warning” by Biggie. The funkiness and the tempo. I was getting that feeling from it. It’s hard to go into depth because that happened so organically. You can’t really find a loop better that that. I’m surprised I haven’t heard anybody rocking over that. Once I heard that sample, it was a no-brainer. It ain’t like I’m gonna make this beat and stink it up.

You did all the beats on the record.

That’s just the old formula of hip-hop I grew up listening to. EPMD albums and stuff like that. Main Source’s Breakin’ Atoms and stuff like that, they were done in-house.

And you never owned a beat machine?

Nope. Never. This is the first beat machine I ever purchased. The MPC-2500. I would always use my homies’ drum machines. Once you learn one MP, you pretty much got ’em all.

When do you do most of your beat writing?

I get it whenever I can. There’s no set schedule. It starts with the samples. The samples inspired me. Once I find a sample that I connect with, that’s how everything starts. I went digging at Academy in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Sound Library. Going through friends’ records. I just got it from everywhere. People sending me MP3s of shit they found. I get the samples any way I can.

Is Fat Beats clearing all these?

[Laughs] I guess it’s smart to tell you, yeah, we’re clearing everything. We’re definitely clearing samples. We didn’t clear everything–it would be impossible. Some of the records are foreign, I don’t even know if you could even clear some of those records, I don’t even know if there’s any business behind some of the records. I already think the first track somebody snitched on me as far as a sample clearance issue. That at least let me know the record was on the radar. The record was out a week before we found out somebody was on our neck.

What’s the most memorable show you ever played in New York City?

It had to be about ’93. This is before I was even on. I would say my favorite, craziest show in New York City was actually performing at the Village Gate. The Village Gate was where everybody was trying to get on–Biggie, everybody rocked there. I just remember my homeboys were doing a show and brought me on stage and I smashed that down. I went from somebody standing around in the club to a line of people trying to talk to me.

What’s your favorite place to eat in Long Island?

I’d have to go with Sylvia’s on Nassau Road. That’s actually in Uniondale. Soul food spot. They do catering an all of that. That got me through many nights and days.

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