Returning to some of Roc Marciano’s earlier work, I realized just how vicious he sounds over hard kicks and snares. Whether it’s legendary figures like Pete Rock or DJ Premier, or underground classics from the P Brothers and Nottz, Marciano’s calm and calculated delivery over crashing drums may not have garnered the success his reinvention did, but I secretly prefer it.

It ultimately culminated with his best solo album (2012’s “Reloaded“), but let’s revisit some of those earlier joints that underground heads were ranting and raving about in the noughties. The New York emcee’s writing, charisma, and production skills have all improved over the years, but I always reach for these songs where he showcases his knack for flow and leans into his NYC accent.

From Flipmode to The UN (1999-2003)

Flipmode SquadWhatcha Come Around Here ForViolator: The AlbumAug 10, 1999Nottz
Rah Digga feat. Flipmode SquadJust For YouDirty HarrietApr 4, 2000Nottz
Flipmode SquadSet It On FireThe Piece MakerApr 18, 2000DJ Shok
Busta Rhymes feat. Raekwon, Ghostface Killah & Roc-MarcianoThe HeistAnarchyJun 20, 2000Large Professor
Easy Mo Bee feat. Flipmode Squad, American Cream TeamLet’s Make a ToastNow or Never: Odyssey 2000Sep 1, 2000Easy Mo Bee
Rock Marciano-Cake
-Give It To Y’all
-Nothin’ Lesser
PetestrumentalsMay 1, 2001Pete Rock
Flipmode Squad feat. KelisWhat It Is Right Now 2Dr. Dolittle 2 OSTJul 28, 2001The Neptunes
Flipmode SquadTake ThatBrace 4 Impak!Jul 31, 2001Da Beatminerz
The UN-It Ain’t No Thang
How You Want It
-The Avenue
-Long Time Coming
World Domination: The Mixtape2003Pete Rock
The UN-The House
-Hardcore (Revisited)
-Grid Iron Pro
World Domination: The Mixtape2003The UN
The UN-The Art
-UN House
World Domination: The Mixtape2003Mic Raw
The UN-The Don
-It’s Over
-Just Like A Star (Remix)
World Domination: The Mixtape2003Reef
The UN-Get Yo Bitch
-Golden Grail
World Domination: The Mixtape2003Roc Marciano
The UNDominantWorld Domination: The Mixtape2003Alchemist
The UNWhat They WantWorld Domination: The Mixtape2003Large Professor
The UNMoneyWorld Domination: The Mixtape2003Mahogany

2004 – The Year of The UN

Wordsmith feat. Roc MarcianoThe Example: Lost ChaptersClassic Material2004?
Rock Marciano-L.I (Stand Up)
-Keep Risin’
Strength and HonorEarly 2004Roc Marciano
Rock Marciano-Boulevard
-Time Kills
Strength and HonorEarly 2004D.O.A.
Rock Marciano-Scared Straight
Strength and HonorEarly 2004Nottz
Rock Marciano-Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy
-Fall Back
Strength and HonorEarly 2004Pete Rock
X-Ecutioners feat. Rock MarcyThe RegulatorsRevolutionsJun 8, 2004Roc Raida
The UN-Buildin’
-Mind Blowin’
UN Or U OutJul 13, 2004Roc Marciano
The UN-D.O.A.
UN Or U OutJul 13, 2004Mahogany, Oddisee
The UNGame of DeathUN Or U OutJul 13, 2004Pete Rock
The UNRussian Hat WearUN Or U OutJul 13, 2004Mahogany, Bruce Wayne

Roc Goes Solo (2005-2008)

Pumpkinhead feat. Rocky MarcianoSwordfish (Remix)Later released in 2007 on Newport Authority mixtape2005Marco Polo
Rock MarcianoThink DifferentlyWu-Tang Meets the Indie CultureOct 18, 2005Bronze Nazareth
Rock MarcianoThugs PrayerAll Elements Vol. 92006Roc Marciano
Rock MarcianoChangeAcknowledge Greatness2007
Meyhem Lauren feat. Roc MarcianoU Know U WrongAcknowledge the Takeover: 192007J-Love
Roc MarcianoSnowStreet Savior 72007Roc Marciano
Rock MarcianoLike ThisssssStreet Savior 82007J-Love
Shylow feat. Roc MarcianoGrown MenUGHHXCLUSIVE V22007
Rock MarcianoDon ShitAcknowledge the Takeover 32008Roc Marciano
Kool G Rap feat. Cormega, J-Love, Roc MarcianoTricks of the StreetsThe Originator Pt. 22008J-Love
Roc MarcianoIt’s So GNY’s FinestFeb 26, 2008Pete Rock
Roc MarcianoUntold TruthPete Rock vs. The MachineMay 21, 2008Pete Rock
GZA feat. Rock MarcyShort RacePro ToolsAug 19, 2008Arabian Knight
El Da Sensei & The Returners feat. Reef the Lost Cauze, Roc MarcianoMoneyGlobal Takeover – The BeginningSep 26, 2008The Returners
P Brothers feat. Roc Marciano-Caviar
-Outta Control
The GasOct 15, 2008P Brothers
DJ Babu feat. Cali Agents, Roc MarcianoGraveyardshiftinDuck Season Vol. 3Oct 28, 2008DJ Babu

Of all these records, it’s clear how much chemistry Roc had with Pete Rock and P Brothers in particular. The wildly underappreciated U.N. album was from a period that will likely not be revisited in the streaming era, whereby one emcee puts his crew on and utilizes his connections to create an album of street bangers. Think Screwball with Blaq Poet, Immobilarie with Jaz-O, and even Flipmode Squad with Busta Rhymes which Roc was a part of himself. Singles for the streets, New York rap crews, and the idea of elite producers coming together to craft an hour of hard beats for a collective featuring numerous new names – it’s very much a thing of the past. And Roc Marciano knew this, re-evaluating his position and approach to hip-hop with 2010’s “Marcberg” and 2012’s “Reloaded”, which have gone on to greatly influence the next decade of emcees.