Roc Marciano Lives in L.A. Now, Though You Wouldn't Know it From His Raps
His biceps reveal tattoos of Arabic letters and the initials of his old crew, The UN -- a reminder that Marciano's success arrived only after significant struggle. A late-arriving member to Busta Rhymes' Flipmode Squad, Marciano lost a solo deal with Elektra when Rhymes' 2000 work, Anarchy, didn't match the commercial success of his earlier efforts. Several years later, Marciano re-emerged, backed by The UN and the production of legendary boom-bap pioneer Pete Rock. Released on Carson Daly's short-lived 456 Entertainment, U.N. or U Out sold few copies, despite being later re-evaluated as an overlooked gem.
There were few appearances between 2005 and 2010. Marciano says he was mostly "doing regular shit ... smoking weed, chilling with the homies." Somewhere in the last decade and a half, there were stints hustling in Philadelphia, North Carolina and Atlanta. There also was a brief deal with Steve Rifkin's SRC label.
When Marciano finally returned to rap, he did so with a poisonous and pure vision, one absent of artistic compromise. He does to '90s New York rap what Dam-Funk does to the boogie funk of the early '80s: modernizes and furthers the evolution of a classic sound. He's an original in the same league as earlier legends from the tradition. He could live in Hong Kong and still bleed Hempstead.
"Stick to your guns," Marciano says, settling on a pair of gray and turquoise, Australian-made sneakers. "Follow your vision through. Do shit your way. When you don't, you suffer in the long run."