Verse of the Year Contender: Roc Marciano “Scarface Ni99a”

If you’ve spent more than 15 minutes around me this year, there’s a great chance I’d either talk to you in 5% Raekwon-lite slang or I would try to sell you on the idea that Roc Marciano is the most thrilling emcee in these times.  His album Marcberg is easily the best hip hop album of 2010, as I stumped for quite joyously at Passion of the Weiss back in May. 

Marci now belongs in the discussion of The Best Emcees Working Today because he’s the first guy to really truly embrace his niche and do everything possible (produce his solo debut by himself, anyone?) to connect to that base only. There’s no well-timed cosigns or cross promotional schemes behind his output.  I doubt he even knew the response would be this strong considering the folding of Fat Beats and the complete absence of hardcore east coast rap in the national consciousness.

When you listen to Marcberg, and consequently every guest spot and random one-off he’s dropped this year, you can’t even tell it’s 2010–he references athletes from the 70’s and 80’s over beats containg no synths or 808 clap.  You’d swear the crack era in New York is ongoing.  

It’s amazing how disciplined he is in playing only to his strengths.  It took Raekwon 14 years to come to that realization between his two Cuban Link voyages — you really sound great on THIS type of beat.  In this regard, Marciano is the Anti-Nas, only giving the loyalists what they want because apparently that’s all that he wants too. He’s like the Raja Bell of rap–casual fans and superstar seekers don’t know him, but Questlove, Madlib, Just Blaze, Q-Tip, and Alchemist do, the same way Raja Bell will never sell a sneaker…but Kobe Bryant fears him.  Like Raja Bell, Marci is a specialist, and specialists will always have a job.

And now Roc decided to drop one of the best songs of the year, with little build-up or promo, just execution.  “Scarface Ni99a” is supposed to end up on Marcberg Reloaded but if you never listened to Marciano before or forget to grab the next LP, this track tightly packages all that is of the man who can reference Paul Orndorff and Pete Maravich without a hint of irony or “high five for vintage stuff, guys!”.  Over a beat that Mobb Deep would reward their fans with in ’96, Marci slides through a jeweler’s row of elegance and cold hard criminology. 

Download and listen to “Scarface Ni99a”

What I scribble in the pad is magic
Flesh is tatted, lessons are added
To the tablet in Arabic, my narrative
Smoother than Pistol Pete Maravich
You’re just an embarrassment to rap
For that you deserve a javelin in your back
Bum ass n****a you know the business
My glow won’t diminish, not a bit-id
My flow hard to mimic like Yiddish
Still one of the best spitters, ad-mit it
Sex symbol, I’m like what Brad Pitt is to bitches
Songs play out like motion pictures
Making a movie out here
OG, I feel like Big Tookie out here
I’m the dookie out here, you booty out here
Smoked out, looking like Pookie out here
White gold flooded Virgin Mary
Mercenary, burn nary, turn a canary
Dirty Harry swerving in the Caddy
Serving that Marion Barry to Cat Daddy
Bally on, my bitch is a stalli-on
Black medalli-ons similar to caviar
To carry arms in the tarot cards
My vacaron got more karats than a salad bar



  1. I love this song, I really do. But it probably would have been the weakest track on Marcberg. “My narrative is smoother than Pistol Pete Maravich” may be the slickest lines I’ve heard all year though. His rhymes kind of just roll off the tounge.

    I see what you’re saying with “the anti-nas”, but I think what makes both artists great is they both seem to be in their own worlds creatively. I don’t get the same feeling that Roc Marc is pandering to a niche audience the same way I do when I listen to Torae, Ruste Juxx, or Skyzoo. No disrespect to those artists cause they make decent music too.

  2. Hl:

    Good points there. I think there’s a couple weaker joints on “Marcberg” then this joint but it’s a killer post-album leak for sure.

    Nas is not in his own world creatively though–that’s where I have to disagree with you. He’s completely lost and misguided, and I’d have to make a 5,000 word essay on his career post “It Was Written” to fully gauge that argument.

    I did forget about the Nu Duck Down blood (Torae, Juxx, Sky)…good call. I meant “niche” in regards to Roc only in the sense that Marci’s niche is probably one generation older. He’s been out since 2000 with Flipmode, The UN, and the random cuts with Pete Rock whereas all those guys started popping up in 2005-2006.

    Thanks for the insightful comments my friend.

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