Roc Marciano occupies an essential place in the modern Hip-Hop landscape and his contributions, especially over the past 12 years, are well established. As one of the few Hip-Hop artists who doesn’t need to seek outside production, Roc Marci’s new album with The Alchemist, The Elephant Man’s Bones, adds to the pair’s rich legacies collaboratively and apart.
Roc Marciano and The Alchemist are no strangers to one another. Alchemist and Marc notably began working with one another in 2012 on the Reloaded album, an important release in the Hempstead, Long Island, N.Y. rapper’s catalog. The connection established over a decade ago still stands strong and anticipation that the two would lock in for a full project remained high for years.
It goes without saying that The Elephant Man’s Bones delivers on the hope that the two would bring out each other’s best efforts. Further, it establishes that The Alchemist can enter Roc Marci’s world with ease while still providing his signature texture to the production laid forth.
The album opens with “Rubber Hand Grip” and Marc’s cool, measured lyrics meshed with expertly delivered adlibs (a little-discussed gift of Roc Marci’s) are supplemented by the airy backing track from Alchemist. That song is followed by “Daddy Kane” featuring the charismatic Action Bronson. This song will satisfy a certain segment of Hip-Hop fans who aren’t especially fond of the drumless Hip-Hop aesthetic perfected by the likes of Marc, Alchemist, MIKE, and several others.
The album’s first single, “Deja Vu,” follows, and upon its release, fans of Marc and Al turned in unusually mixed reviews. It isn’t conventional at all but not vastly different from some of the work fans may have heard on Mt. Marci or any of Alchemist’s recently released projects. In the context of the album, the shift in mood is welcomed and sets up the pathway to an excellent album run featuring “Quantum Leap,” which may be the pair’s strongest work and also their most subdued. The piano-tinged title track also delivers big on the audio promise fans expected, and “Bubble Bath” is one of the busier tracks on the album and easily one of its best.
Other features are well-placed with Detroit’s Boldy James delivering his signature brick talk on the track “Trillion Cut” and “The Horns of Abraxas” which present a chilling street tale from veteran rapper and actor, Ice-T. Knowledge The Pirate, a longtime Marc collaborator, shows up on “Zip Guns.”
While there aren’t any bad songs across the 14 tracks present on The Elephant Man’s Bones, the biggest risks largely take place on tracks like the aforementioned “Deja Vu” and “JJ Flash” but that’s not meant to come off as deep criticism.
As it stands, the album satisfies all of the expected Hip-Hop checkboxes, especially in this era of renewed “Boom Bap” and truthfully, the bar is extremely high because of the creators involved. The onus then is on us, the listener, to accept the work as it was intended without our lofty expectations. This is an amazing addition to the strong catalogs of both Roc Marciano and The Alchemist. If we’re lucky, we’ll get more from the two in the near future.
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Roc Marciano & The Alchemist – ‘The Elephant Man’s Bones’ [Review] was originally published on hiphopwired.com