Roc Marciano walks on water when he rhymes. No bar is wasted, each measured line, delivered with Roc's sneering calm, hits like an Ali jab. He's a gangsta pimp rapping machine.
The Pimpstead, Long Island rapper has been in this game since the late '90s, as a member of Busta Rhymes' Flipmode squad. He eventually left to form the U.N. and dropped the album UN or U Out on Carson Daly's (yes, that Carson Daly) FourFiveSix Entertainment in 2004.
Then it seemed like he evaporated into the mist, never to be heard from again. He appeared on features here and there but it was still a surprise when, as it felt like the NYC rap scene was losing its identity, he returned from of nowhere like a goddamn superhero to give us Marcberg in 2010, a marvel in ingenuity.
Roc Marci hasn't missed since, burning features and dropping dope albums and tapes. After a four-year hiatus, he came back with Rosebudd's Revenge and the sound on this record is more stripped down than his previous work. Rosebudd rides a bit smoother than Marcberg and Reloaded, and is a little more refined in purpose than the Pimpire Strikes Back. Standouts include "Move Dope," "Gunsense," "Burkina Faso," and "Pray 4 Me." Each track sounds different from the other, highlighting Marci's range in terms of flow and taste level for creative sample flips.
Complex got up with Roc over the phone while he was L.A. to talk about the new album, his favorite pimps, and the state of NYC street rap, among other things. Check the interview below.
What is it about pimp culture that you're drawn to?
It's just the hustle. It's no different from a dope dealer, a stick-up kid—the hustles you see growing up as a kid. It was something I always identified with. You can trace the pimp talk in my music back to Marcberg.
Are you going to start rocking suits now?
Don't be surprised. [Laughs.]
Which pimps, from real life or pop culture, influenced your music the most?
The originals, like Goldie, Willie Dynamite, Dolomite. Cats like that.
You have a line about Ice T on "Move Dope." How much of an influence does he have on the smoothed out, gangsta pimp shit you be on?
For sure. Him. Michael [Jackson]. New Edition (I wanted to be them niggas growing up). Rakim. A lot of people, man.
Producers the Arch Druids are all over Rosebudd's Revenge. Is Scorched Earth Theory still a thing?
I'm in L.A. right now, getting busy as we speak. We're cooking something up.
So there's a second part to Rosebudd coming? What can we expect?
There's definitely going to be more features, and really just a continuation of what I think is fly.
What do think of the climate of the music business now? Artists are going platinum based off streams. That should help an indie artist such as yourself, right?
It all depends on who you are and what your demand is. Music isn't something I depend on to pay my bills, it's extra money. To survive, you gotta do a lot of shows, do features, things like that. If you know how to hustle.
You cut out the middle man buy selling your new album for $20 on the microsite?
I always felt like artists should be in touch with their fans. You should know your fanbase. That's the future of the business, go right to the people. I think that's the best way to do it. I would rather support the artist directly.
Some New York street rap tends to be stuck in the '90s. How do you avoid sounding dated?
I think it has a lot to do with how you're rhyming. Now, if you're rhyming using the same rhyme schemes of that era and not updating the flow, it's gonna sound dated. It makes you sound corny. The same thing with the sampling, because we can do way more with samples these days with the technology we have. You can still keep it traditional and still sound up-to-date. I think it's natural evolution.
And your style of using samples is a more stipped down way of flipping them.
It's fun. If you take the fun out of the equation, I'm not interested. It's fun because I'm what the fuck I wanna do versus what people think is cool at the moment. I'm gonna do what I think is cool.
How do you react when you're in the booth and say some fire shit?
Not to toot my own horn, I say a lot of fire shit, so it just be another line to me as far as I'm concerned. I feel like ain't none of my shit weak. [Laughs.]
Being an OG, and kind of spearheading the current sound in 2010 with Marcberg, how do you feel about the state of the New York street rap scene?
I think it's beautiful; everybody's eating and feeding their families.
Plus, there's no tension. Everybody seems to get along.
Go get a job if you wanna be unhappy. People doing what they love is a beautiful thing. [Laughs.] I also think that we all fuck with each other, so you're not getting some fake politicking shit. You're getting cats that respect each other.
They're real soulful.
I agree. When I first heard Thug, I said to myself: "This nigga is a genius." Future too. They have songs I love.
Off top, what are some of your favorite songs from them?
From Future, I really like "No Charge." [Starts singing the hook.] That's my shit. I like some of the early Thug shit like "Strange Things." I fuck with that Rich Gang shit, "Imma Ride." [Starts humming "Niggas playin' my whoadie, Ima ride."] That's my joint right there.
At this point in your career, do you care about crossing over, whether it be a Top 40 song or with a TV show or something?
I would love to be involved in something that goes crazy. I would love to produce a Beyoncé record. [Laughs.] I would never rule something like that out. I work with a lot of people you wouldn't expect. People would be surprised. I'm not closed minded. I work with Q-Tip a lot, and he works with a bunch of different people.
Talk about your relationship with ASAP Yams a bit, because he loved your music.
I met him at a music festival in L.A., if I'm not mistake. I used to see him showing me love online, so when I seen him, we chopped it up. I had love for the homie. He was a real good dude. I liked the niggas he was fucking with, like Retchy P and some of the other real nice, young niggas he was putting me on to. We were on the same page most of the time when it came to the style of music we liked.
When I interviewed Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge late last year, they said they listened to a lot of your music while they made Yes Lawd! The last several years, you've been kind of put on a pedestal by your peers as a God MC. How does that make you feel?
I was talking to my boy about this the other day. I think it's a reflection of my love for what I do. People hear that. I feel blessed to what I do and maybe that's translating. I always want to have the frame of mind of contributing to music. I'm not making music to make fast money. I'm trying to make a contribution and that's what's important to me.