Roc Marciano & Gangrene
At the close of one of the most forgettable musical summers in recent memory, most clones were fawning over some superduo asking them to (needlessly) watch a throne; this while 401Ks tumbled into the sewer and global markets behaved more mercurially than Capitol Hill during the Debt Ceiling debacle. A few fiefdoms away from rap’s so-called palatial estate, a less-heralded triumvirate dropped a mystifying little opus entitled Greneberg.
EPs may be celebrated in Indie Rock/Electronic music circles but they are generally glossed over in the attention-deficient world of hip-hop. At first glance into a SoundCloud cumulonimbus, the pairing of Gangrene (Oh No & The Alchemist) and Roc Marciano looked like a typical Garage Band cook-up or a mash-up in the vein of the vexingly mediocre Wugazi project. Upon further booth review, the flawless vocals of Roc Marciano on cuts like “Hoard 90″ & “Jet Luggage” revealed this was no haphazardly honed project.
Roc Marc is one of the last of his mold, a throwback MC more worthy of his Pete Rock-cosign than his days as depth chart fodder for the Flipmode Squad. A slew of mixtapes and two stirring releases in the last 2.5 years (P Brothers’ The Gas & last year’s masterful Marcberg), cemented Marce as one of the preeminent undercore lyricists of this era. His flawless delivery and clever crime chronicles (albeit of the one-note variety) recall what hip-hop means to many of its followers: a basement littered with Jansports, eggshell notebooks and crates of dusty vinyl.
The Alchemist is an average rapper at best and unfortunately it is him instead of the more vocally agile Oh No that grabs the mic more often than crafting MPC monstrosities. ALC & Oh No build a bewitching sound here, one that drips in psychedelia as well as drones with straight-ahead jazz and boom-bap flourishes.
The EP is rendered in split-vinyl fashion with Marciano powering the A-Side & Gangrene on Side B. Luckily Roc Marc salvages side two with an appearance on the scatalogically-themed “Sewer Gravy” and the offering’s piece de resistance, “Jaws,” an Itunes-only solo bonus cut. For the latter, Oh No chops John Williams’ ominous great-white-coming-for-that-ass composition into a knock worthy of the mid-70′s panic-inducing film (one can almost hear Richard Dreyfus mouthing “we’re gonna need a bigger boat..”). Roc does his best underwater predator impression and wraps this 7-track oeuvre in fine fashion.