It shouldn’t have come to this. When Roc Marciano dropped his official solo debut, Marcberg, in 2010 — first as an EP, then a few months later as a full LP — the work shouldn’t have been so widely, disgustingly unappreciated that I, at the age of 25, felt compelled to take up music blogging/journalism/criticism/whatever-you-call-this. This review of Rosebudd’s Revenge shouldn’t have to be a EUREKA! for you to get the message. And here we are.
“It is what it is, fuck what it could’ve been”
First off, it’s not punchline rap when the setup is just as quotable, so don’t even bother looking for filler here. Qualitatively and narratively, the refrain of Rosebudd’s Revenge is murder. That said, one could attempt to review this album as the poet-pimp’s psycho-social manifesto, exploring the conceptual metaphor of capitalism (and, by extension, any gainful livelihood) as pandering and all that badness. One could, but I will refer you to the quotes immediately above and below instead. Pimpstead.
“Motherfucker this is art, you can’t just pick this apart”
Sect works the counter at his man’s vintage shop, though approximately half the day is spent in the backroom, a beaded off design studio from which incense smoke and sampled loops stream. The chop Sect’s tooling with at this moment is so trance inducing that neither he nor his man, the shop’s proprietor currently hot-gluing rhinestones to an old denim, notice the front door jangle. It’s only the added vocal accompaniment of a sudden “Cuckaw” that alerts them; crow sounds being otherwise absent from this particular production. Sect’s grasp on patois doesn’t extend far beyond “wagwan,” so the following exchange can’t even really be called a conversation. Suffice it to say that the yardie patron is apparently agitated about something or other, and after he exits in a huff, Sect returns to the workroom feeling a bit uneasy. His distress is doubled upon seeing a handgun now resting beside the garment atop his man’s workbench. It was found in a park, in the bushes by the lake, and it’s for situations like this one should they escalate any further in the future, he reasons. Speaking of, self-titled or HNDRXX though?
“Your body washed up somewhere in Glen Cove”
The call came in at 1:56 AM. By that time, most of the squad had called it a night, the day’s shoot having kept them on their feet for the better part of 11 hours. There’d been whispers around the set about a Major look for the wrap party, something far above and beyond the usual hotel-room high jinks, but nobody gave it much serious consideration, talk being cheap and time the opposite. So when creative director Lock woke to the news that it was On, that the new sound guy was There with his crew, that he’d spread word about the collective, and that the whole team was invited by the Man himself to come through now, like Right Now, Lock did as he always did when things started to come together: he got out of his own way and let the movement take over. They regrouped in the lobby by 2:12, were out the door and on the road by a quarter past, and rolled up the Mansion gates at 2:30 flat. Security was tight, list was right, phones were taken, and doors were opened. So many doors. Looking back, Lock laughs at his luck. He’d “cousins” who’d likely kill to be him for a night, and “uncles” who’d literally kill him if they ever heard what he’d gotten their daughters into that night. Here’s hoping he can keep his mouth shut this time.
“Get shot and left somewhere in Wichita”
Bin was shook. The blog post had been too damn good for his own. For his own good, that is — not for his own blog, but maybe that too, come to think of it. Could it be that his research was so thorough it had actually served as a resource for DTs, DAs, and their assistants? Bin imagined a googly-eyed, handsomely-paid intern nodding along to the artist’s song posts while copy-pasting whole paragraphs from those same posts into a case file on that same artist. As someone whose baseline excuse from jury duty selection was “because I’m an anarchist,” Bin considered inadvertently aiding an ongoing investigation something like his worst nightmare. Now what? Time for some much-needed housekeeping of course, but what about afterward? Artists send edit requests in polite and appreciative DMs. Attorneys send subpoenas via certified mail with none such respect. A warm trickle down a clenched fist. It was then that Bin realized he’d been clutching the letter opener so tightly his hand had started to bleed. He wiped his hand on his jeans, tucked the metal into his trench, and stashed the unopened envelope in the Expedit beside the record in question.
“They find your body parts in New Hyde Park”
It wasn’t fair. One for all, he’d said. All in, he’d said. When I get on, he’d said. It ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at. True indeed, but the only thing worse than forgetting where you came from is stopping your day ones from getting on once you’ve made it out. Real ones are supposed to have your back and hold you down, not hold you back and have you down. Everybody knows that. All good though, Crab thought. Next time he comes back around, we’ll see what’s up. That’s right. We’ll see. Crab sank the plunger.
“Your body found rotting out in Baltimore”
Every day, people die and sex sells. But it’s not every day (or month or year) that an album like Rosebudd’s Revenge comes along, one that packs a novel’s worth of imagery, mood, characterization, conflict and theme into practically every line; one that presents scenes so meticulously crafted they inspire us to pick up the narrative threads ourselves, to explore where they came from and try to figure out where they lead, which is always farther than the story tells. The sketches above aren’t in there anymore than our preconceptions are. Inspiration abounds though.