This is the 10th full-length album from Long Island emcee/producer Roc Marciano. Starting out in the very late 90’s as a member of the Flipmode Squad, he then went solo in 2008 to drop classic albums that would pave the way for Griselda like Marcberg & Reloaded. But after focusing on producing projects for other artists recently like Flee Lord & Bronze Nazareth following Mt. Marci a couple years ago, Marci’s enlisting The Alchemist to fully produce his return to the mic: The Elephant Man’s Bones.
“Rubber Band Grip” is a spaciously suspenseful opener talking about having the pump on him whereas the Action Bronson-assisted “Daddy Kane” works in synths to deliver bars like ”I been gettin’ off that soft white long before shorties was rockin’ Off-White. Water color ice, I call it Walter White” or “Know the in and outs, they want dinner? We get ’em In-N-Out“. “Deja Vu” takes a more drumless route with it’s bare piano instrumental confessing he had a breakthrough, but then “Quantum Leap” has some jazzy undertones to it talking about how your favorite rapper send him fan mail & your album ain’t worth 12 pennies to him.
Meanwhile on the title track, we have Marci brings back the luxurious keyboards providing food for the spirit just before “Bubble Bath” has a more glistening yet dusty quality to it talking about being rich for real. “Liquid Coke” shoots for a more symphonic aesthetic saying that’s exactly what he’ll leave when he slits ya throat leading into Boldy James tagging along for “Trillion Cut” getting in their hustle bag on top of a flute & some pianos. Stand-out bars being “Me & G on Stockwell, filthy as Rockwell. Turn an eye on high fresh out a dry spell” & ”My pops had tracks in his arms from heroin, this is rap meets Gil Scott-Heron”.
“The Horns of Abraxas” however has these chilling organ harmonies throughout talking about the road to success being Hell sandwiched in the middle of a great spoken word intro/outro from the O.G. himself Ice-T while “JJ Flash” returns to soulful territory spitting that kingpin shit calling his first plug was his first love. “Zig Zag Zig” is a dramatic boom bap ballad about his life being a fantasy & you getting no pussy while “Stigmata” takes it back to the soul samples as Marci gives free game. Favorite bar is definitely “Like 2 teens playin’ Call of Duty, but all of these is real toolies”.
Following that, the sinister” Zip Guns” with Knowledge the Pirate intimidatingly paints some vivid gangsta rap imagery while the song “Think Big” has a more summery vibe to it talking about taking destiny in his own hands. The penultimate track “Macaroni” returns to a synth-based sound encouraging his competition to hang up the mic & get a job with “Momma Love” sends it off with fireworks as Marci hops on top of a on operatic loop putting it all on Ma Dukes.
From the moment I first heard “Flash Gordon” alongside “Pistolier” & “Paradise Pimps” during my sophomore year of high school a decade ago, I’ve been screaming for Marci & Uncle Al to do an album together. Now that it’s here, it’s the masterpiece that I could’ve ever dreamed from them. There is not a single moment from the beginning of The Elephant Man’s Bones to the end that I genuinely dislike from the smooth & witty gangsta rap lyricism from the New York veteran to the perfectly crafted production pulling from drumless, boom bap & jazz rap.