Roc Marciano Satiates His Cult Fanbase On ‘Marciology’

Hempstead, Long Island-born MC Roc Marciano has frequently referenced his stage name with his project titles: Marcberg, Marci Beaucoup, Marcielago, to name a few. His new release is Marciology, which dropped with a mystery comic-derived album cover that ominously mentions “a cult…..” 

Of course, more than a decade and 11 projects removed from his early days in Busta Rhymes’ orbit, Marciano already has plenty of supporters sipping the Kool-Aid. Since setting his career on a new path with 2011’s Marcberg, he’s spawned a cult fanbase that reveres him for reviving the rap underground with his minimalist production and assonant, sordid rhymes. One can overly pontificate on his impact, or state it like this: Marciology dropped on the same night of a Beyonce album, and many rap fans chose to listen to him first. 

That loyalty was nicely rewarded, as Marciology again demonstrates why Roc is one of rap’s most unique voices — no matter how many artists try to ride the wave. Whether they know it or not, any indie rapper scribing crime epics on drumless loops and selling them direct-to-consumer is indebted to Roc. He opts to remind people on the Marciology single “Crossbow,” where he rhymes, “Shit isn’t new, we need a reboot / They took what we do and repeat the loop / It’s gettin’ easier to sleep through / I’m just speakin’ truth.” 

The couplets exemplify his greatest strengths in tandem: his slick diction and knack for stacking multi-syllabic rhymes together. The Roc Marciano experience feels like observing a grisled boxer go at it with a heavy bag, with a fashion reference as a jab, then flurries of multis coming at different speeds and angles. On “True Love” he rhymes, “The Cartis with the Marni slippers/How I slid out the party with gaudy bitches/Hard to resist, my body different like the Karma Fisker/Y’all all washed, it’s a laundry list of you sorry niggas.” And on “Tapeworm” he raps, “I was in Saks fifth purchasing a jacket, the nerve of these jackasses/My savage got murders on his jacket/I’m too high class to work with purse snatchers,” packing a brag, a threat, and a hilarious affirmation into just several bars. Sometimes, Roc delivers concise knockout blows like a line on “Larry Bird”: “I’ll go in your mouth without payment from Al Haymon.” 

Those multi-sprees serve different functions. On some junctures of Marciology, he’s using just 6-8 bars to paint the kind of visual most writers fail to capture in an entire verse. On the Larry June-featured “Bad Juju,” one of two Alchemist productions on the album (along with “Higher Self”), Roc writes about an obsessive woman, telling her “you can feel the bad juju in you, and your flat is, a one bedroom apartment in manhattan/With just a stool and a mattress, a shrine with a flick of me and a Gucci jacket.” And it’s worth noting how he takes an intentional pause between saying “in you” and “and your” to keep his flow, an expert example of mastering the rules to break them. 

And though Roc mostly depicts himself as an elite rapper-slash-crimelord with first-world problems (“I can only fuck so many Braziilian buttlifts,” he laments on “Went Diamond”), there are sprinkles of real-life wisdom throughout the project. He rhymes, “a man’s worst enemy is his pride and ego” on “Went Diamond,” then “don’t get caught in the trickbag/Can’t have one foot in rap and one in quicksand/That shit don’t make no sense fam” on “LeFlair.” Those moments add a dynamism to his approach, and based on the harrowing story he told Rolling Stone about his winding career in 2021, he has had enough life experience to offer a slightly heavier dose of game on this album. Historically, the most transcendent street-oriented projects are the ones that interlace gloating and gunplay with lessons from experience. Considering Roc’s summative ability, Marciology would have been even stronger with a few more of those lines worked in. 


Nevertheless, Marciology is another excellent collection of one-of-one rhymes over a variety of beats. Roc takes on 10 of the 14 of them, giving himself a varied canvas (producer Animoss crafted “Goyard God” and “Tapeworm”). The eponymous album opener sounds like he’s creeping through a horror movie hoping Jason doesn’t spot the gleam off his Patek. “Went Diamond” is quintessential Roc, meshing a lush string chop and shimmering cymbals, while “True Love” gives the album a West Indian vibe. “On The Run” is reliant on a beguiling vocal chop, and album closer “Floxx” plays fluttering horns against a bass riff that gives the jazzy composition just the right dash of sinistry. 

Roc also explores a rock vibe on “Killin Spree,” where Crimeapple dishes one of the most memorable lines on the album, rhyming, “I’ll stomp you wearin’ silk like Tupac Shakur.” The features here mostly do a strong job of keeping up with Roc, especially recent PIMPIRE signee GREA8GAWD on “Larry Bird,” who decrees “I’ve been nice since Iceberg made history“ during a fiery verse. Roc Marciano has been too, and now he has one more album to stake his claim.