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What’s Left for Roc Marciano to Prove?

Long Island rapper Roc Marciano (right) performs with DJ Alejandro at the Howard Theater in Washington, D.C. His sophomore album, Reloaded, was released to widespread acclaim in November 2012.

Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage. Illustration by Srikar Poruri for Okayplayer

What’s Left for Roc Marciano to Prove?

For Roc Marciano, the reigning monarch of gritty and sparse underground rap, there are no doubters left to conquer.

Passion can take you very far. Remaining dedicated to your passions and applying yourself, year after year, can open up a world of possibilities. Roc Marciano, Hempstead, Long Island’s own, has been rapping for over 25 years, getting his start with Busta Rhymes Flipmode Squad in 1999. Fast forward to 2024, and he is a respected and influential MC and producer, who has had his hands on other artist’s careers, while still rhyming at a high level. Now that he’s released his new single “Gold Crossbow,” a lead-up to his album Marciology that drops this Friday, it feels like Roc has little left to prove. It’s time he gets his just due.

Roc Marciano - Gold Crossbow (Official Music Video)

A trip through Roc Marciano’s discography reveals that he is truly 1 of 1. He’s known for preferring beats with no drums, whether he produced them or he’s enlisting legends like Q-Tip or The Alchemist. This production style, plus Roc’s distinctly sharp (and very New York) voice and conversational flow, turned him into a modern-day street rap pioneer. His conviction to not abandon gritty New York hip-hop, no matter what direction music went in, says a lot about who he is. Underground street rap’s resurgence, which was around the early 2010s, coincides with Roc releasing his debut album Marcberg in 2010 and his classic album, Reloaded, two years later. Roc Marciano is the perfect mix of knowledge, insights from the block, and dry humor, while not making music that sounds like a retread of the ‘90s. Roc Marciano’s creativity also opens up a lot of possibilities; there’s no telling who he could collaborate with. He’s even fully handed the beat-making duties to other producers, as he did on 2018’s Kaos with DJ Muggs, and his last album, 2022’s The Elephant Man’s Bones.

Roc Marciano & The Alchemist "Quantum Leap" OFFICIAL

Another aspect of Roc Marciano’s career is that he has multiple albums that could be considered classics. In 2018, he dropped two amazing albums in Rosebudd’s Revenge 2: The Bitter Dose and Behold A Dark Horse, with both being stylistically different. RR2 is a detailed pimp story, facing all sides of the game, while Behold A Dark Horse is a dark rap album, with Roc both looking within and outside of himself. Roc is a sponge, able to see things and turn them into layered, cohesive songs.

As we get closer to Roc’s new album Marciology, there is a distinct possibility that he can improve and find a new wrinkle, whether it’s in his rapping, production, or both. For a successful touring artist, who has done well in two different disciplines and was a key part of underground street rap moving into the 2010s, there really isn’t much that Roc hasn’t done. As someone who can’t be limited, it would never be wise to count Roc Marciano out; only he knows what he has in store for his next few steps.