Roc Marciano’s Blaxploitation Death Parade

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Long Island rapper and producer Roc Marciano hails from a late-‘90s era when thug talk was the vernacular in New York hip-hop. His sound, along with that of contemporaries such as Ka and Westside Gunn, has been described as a revival of dusty-fingered, sample-heavy, old-school boom bap. Roc Marciano was a product of Busta Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad and later formed his own group, the U.N., with help from Pete Rock.

But by the time he started dazzling critics and crate-digger aesthetes with his 2011 solo debut Marcberg, his music didn’t quite resemble the rotten apple rap of the ’90s. His softly confident, matter-of-fact tone sounds like he’s speaking to you from the driver’s seat of a plush Cadillac, and he often crafts his own beats using drums sparingly, resulting in music with a spacey, opiate-like haze. It’s boom bap 3.0, filtered through the weed-crusted psychedelic influence of beatmasters like Madlib and The Alchemist, both of whom he’s worked with; in particular, with The Alchemist on the one-off project Greneberg.

But if his friend Ka is the Brooklyn clocker-turned-basement mystic, then Roc Marciano is the OG braggart teaching grasshoppers about real hustlers. He lays out the game in vivid detail on his latest album, the revelatory Rosebudd’s Revenge, a title that pays homage to the totem of Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. The lyrics are full of pimps, big booty girls, and fine threads, but more important is the aura he projects—this is music that transports you to a film in your mind, whether it resembles Super Fly or something else entirely.

The selections on this playlist include tracks from his three solo albums and mixtapes like The Pimpire Strikes Back, plus cameos like last year’s appearance on De La Soul’s And the Anonymous Nobody.