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Mood Music – Soundtrack to a Good Commute

When it comes to hip-hop, I’m a simple man, really. I require little more than production that infests itself in my ears, incubates for weeks on end, and randomly plays throughout mundane daily routines.

That’s simple, right?

I’ll be sitting on the Jersey-to-Manhattan PATH train, eyeballs-deep into a good book (these days, it’s the short story collection Poe’s Children: The New Horror, edited by Peter Straub) and then, suddenly, the beat to a current favorite song will start playing. I’ll then put the book down on my lap and drift off; story ideas materialize, inspired by this particular bit of sonic goodness. Today, for example, I had the instrumental for Necro’s “Human Consumption” in brain’s-loop for some reason, and a rather demented piece of fiction came to mind. Tit for tonal tat.

Here, give it a listen…

While we’re on the subject, actually, let me go on record with something—Necro is one of rap’s most underrated producers, bar none. Sure, his flow and lyrics can be a bit rough, but the guy’s boardwork is singular and devastating. Like the bulk of Necro’s arsenal, this “Human Consumption” beat—a piercing, siren-like blend of rumbling bass, organ shrieks and faint lady screams—is tailor-made for my horror-ific sensibilities.

So it’s only right that it be the track to distract me from the production that’s otherwise been dominating my head all week, that of Roc Marciano’s self-produced and awesome new solo LP, Marcberg. If the Long Island native’s name sounds familiar but you just can’t place it, you most likely know him from his brief Busta Rhymes/Flipmode Squad affiliation; if you’re closer to my heart, though, you’re aware of his group, The U.N., and agree that their 2004 independent album U.N. or U Out is one of the last decade’s unsung gems. And, therefore, I fucks with you. You, my fellow U.N. head, must have been just as amped to hear Marcberg once word of its impending release hit a couple months back, though I’m skeptical that you presently adore the album as much as I am. It’s okay if you don’t; frankly, my inability to listen to anything else right now is a tad strange even to myself.

Marcberg isn’t monumental in any way, shape or form. The verses and concepts are commonplace, a string of boasts, street-life observations and wit. Marciano’s intentionally 1990s-in-NYC-sounding production steals the show, pushing his lyrics to the back, at least for me. His aggressive flow sounds just right atop these tracks, and that’s a huge plus; if it were someone with the chops of, say, Soulja Boy spitting on Marciano’s soundbeds, we’d have major problems. Lucky stars have been thanked, believe me. I’ll take Roc Marciano the MC over a good 70-percent of the game’s notable rappers any time, any day, any place.

This is a pure zone-about album. Makes me want to take a long drive late at night to no certain destinations. Sit in corner seats of a train car, hoodie pulled up over my skull, giving the other passengers the creeps, as my head nods and my eyes remain shut. Albums like Marcberg were the norm back when I was a newbie in high school, circa 1996-1997, and I purchased damn near every one of them. You know, inconspicuous disc s with titles like Ghetto Millionaire (Royal Flush) and The Awakening (Lord Finesse).

Nothing but hard beats, capable yet simple rhymes and genuine grit. The perfect soundtracks for me to enter the mental places necessary for yours truly to “get open.” I love listening to folks like The-Dream and Drake as much as the next guy (hell, I’m even bumping Ciara’s “Ride” with ease, though doing so with the video is much wiser), but dark mood music, as heard on Roc Marciano’s Marcberg, will always be my bread and butter.

The album doesn’t hit stores until May 18, on Fat Beats/Select-O—please believe I’ll be hitting the local Best Buy with cash in hand that afternoon. I’d be a mega-lame if I didn’t. I’m fortunate enough to have an early copy, though, so the least I can do is spread the advance word. I’ll leave you with a few Marcberg samples, cuts I’m especially fond of at the moment. —Matt Barone

“Ridin’ Around”

“Don Shit”



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