Roc Marciano / The Alchemist - The Elephant Man’s Bones Music Album Reviews

Roc Marciano / The Alchemist - The Elephant Man’s Bones Music Album Reviews
Toned down but no less penitent, nostalgic but ready to stake a claim to a new future, the duo’s long-awaited full-length is one of the most indulgently sinister rap records of the year.

Rumor has it that, in 1987, Michael Jackson made a bid to buy the skeleton of Englishman Joseph Merrick. Merrick, known as the Elephant Man due to his severe physical deformities, spent his life as an object of ridicule and medical fascination before passing away in 1890 at age 27. A tragic figure with a kind heart, he would become the subject of multiple books, stage plays, and movies across the next century, most famously director David Lynch’s 1980 biopic The Elephant Man. Jackson was reportedly moved by the film, finding solace in a scene where Merrick—portrayed by actor John Hurt—is chased by an angry mob through Liverpool Street station and cries out to his attackers: “I am not an elephant. I am not an animal. I am a human being! I…am…a…man!” Over time, Jackson became fascinated by Merrick’s life. He arranged to view his skeleton at Royal London Hospital, where he allegedly offered $500,000, and later $1 million, to purchase it for his collection. Jackson and his estate have denied this story, but the legend lingers.

Roc Marciano and The Alchemist share a fascination with the idea of putting a premium on what they deem to be high art. Both are rapper-producers, Marci from Long Island and Alchemist from Beverly Hills, and both were co-signed by hip-hop royalty early in their careers. Their paths weren’t exactly the same, though. Marci built his status from the ground up after his time in Busta Rhymes’ Flipmode Squad and the group the U.N. came to a close, while Alchemist became a marquee name producing for everyone from 50 Cent and Kendrick Lamar to Boldy James and Armand Hammer. They turned their influence and underground grind into flourishing independent businesses catering directly to a clientele seeking nose-bone-shattering rap music. The Elephant Man’s Bones, the duo’s long-awaited full-length, mixes the grime they’re known for with sounds that flutter instead of seething: Imagine your favorite mob-affiliated uncle drunk at a family gathering, spinning funny, disgusting, and melancholy yarns to GoodFellas-style lounge jazz. Toned down but no less penitent, nostalgic but ready to stake a claim to a new future, it’s one of the most indulgently sinister rap records of the year.

By now Marci’s pimp-meets-capo persona is so well-established that he can afford to spend his time burrowing deeper to see how much gold he can unearth. He’s a specialist in the sense of Pusha T or Kool G Rap—his deadpan commitment to bending his schtick around different sounds is half the fun. “Me and my Uzi, we lookin’ like a couple spoonin’,” he says on opening track “Rubber Hand Grip,” the comedy and intimacy of the image never overshadowing the danger of being shot by a man who claims he “made God in my likeness.”

His reference pool brings a stark clarity to his mythmaking, giving bits of humor and pathos more depth. On “Quantum Leap,” he claims to own a Bentley that comes with his own personal version of rapper and actor Fonzworth Bentley. Names and brands slip through Marci’s stories unexpectedly, like the Champion clothing he mentions wearing back in the day on “Trillion Cut,” or two bars from the title track that nod to Billie Holiday and the sitcom Good Times to flesh out his come-up: “God bless the child y’all, I finally got it together/From good times hanging in the chow line like Florida Evans.” Elephant Man’s Bones is bursting with quotables, but more impressive is how Marci’s stories weave in seamlessly with the icons he namedrops. He writes about his triumphs and struggles like all of history was waiting for him to appear.

With few exceptions, Marci’s solo albums are known for being entirely self-produced, flooded with gossamer sampled loops and anchored by drums that range from tinny to nonexistent. Alchemist handles every song here, approaching each with an ominous elegance. Aside from the 8-bit synth blasts of “Daddy Kane,” most of Elephant Man’s Bones is dominated by keys—pianos, organs, harpsichord—and drums, teasing out a lounge-jazz vibe he rarely indulges.

Previous one-off Marci and Alchemist collaborations were busier and more boisterous. Both 2016’s “All for It” and 2018’s “In Case You Forgot,” team-ups that appeared through Alchemist’s Craft Singles series, leaned into standard, bludgeoning boom-bap drum programming. Elephant Man’s Bones is more like a shadowy extension of the sunlit warble of “Harry O.,” from 2019’s Yacht Rock 2—relaxed and confident, with a Ruger in the champagne bucket just in case. “Rubber Hand Grip” turns the psychedelia of Alchemist’s work on Armand Hammer’s Haram inside out, its chimes and drums throbbing like an irregular heartbeat. “Quantum Leap” and “Liquid Coke” are two of the prettiest and most stripped-back beats he’s ever created. The crisp vocal loops on songs like “JJ Flash” and the title track float past tiptoeing drums to hover alongside Marci’s voice. Alchemist’s beats are relaxed and full-bodied, creating a calming atmosphere that Marci stuffs with allusions to Call of Duty and gangsters catching bullets with their teeth. For the duo to finally meet in the middle for a full-length project after all these years—and for that project to be as warm, gutter, and satisfying as The Elephant Man’s Bones—is remarkable. When two rap veterans show out with this much style and skill, it’s easy for them to name their price.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Roc Marciano / The Alchemist - The Elephant Man’s Bones Music Album Reviews Roc Marciano / The Alchemist - The Elephant Man’s Bones Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on September 05, 2022 Rating: 5


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