Label: Fat Beats

Not just cul-de-sacs and strip malls, Long Island has some hardscrabble hoods too, and Hempstead is definitely one of them. Blue-collar noir-rap specialist Roc Marciano mined his gritty upbringing there for Marcberg, an evocative, almost gothic masterstroke that updated the best elements of mid ‘90s East Coast street rap to fit 2010. The former Flip Mode Squad soldier produced the whole album himself, with just one guest verse (by Brooklyn’s Ka) across the whole thing, making his achievement all the more remarkable.