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Following two acclaimed solo albums in the last four years, Hempstead, Long Island MC/producer Roc Marciano embarks on a new feat. Having almost exclusively showcasing his slick, gritty narratives over self-produced sparse, nostalgic beats, the former Flipmode Squad member and U.N. co-founder is opening his unique sound to some of his friends and respected peers for Marci Beaucoup. Since early 2011, Roc plugged away at what he calls, "An album that wasn't all about me, but more of a project that was about how other artists sounded on my beats." Those guests include Cormega, Freeway, Guilty Simpson, Boldy James, Knowledge The Pirate, longtime affiliate KA, as well as AG Da Coroner. The last is Marci's first signing as VP of A&R at Man Bites Dog Records, the same respected imprint responsible for the third album in Roc's solo franchise. Marciano hopes to gain recognition as the latest in a long line of championed MCs and beat-providers. "It's the music I grew up loving," he says of self-contained Hip-Hop. "Q-Tip, EPMD, Rakim, Ultramagnetic MCs-all of those artists, they weren't just rappers. They were involved in their sound and production. So I'm just pretty much following tradition." With his cold accounts of "Pimpstead," and a vividly-described metropolitan underbelly, Roc's dusty sources, film dialogue, and subdued basslines sound made for each other. However, after two albums that topped year-end lists, and prompted a reported debate between Jay Z and The Roots' ?uestlove over which was better, Roc says he has even more to offer in number three. "Now, when I listen to stuff that I've done a while back, I want to flip it a whole different way. Lately, I feel like I have no style: I do what I have to do. Back in the days, I stuck to a four-bar loop. Now, I don't have any rules." The unconventional approach comes to life on Marci Beaucoup, through Roc's personal highlights, including "Squeeze" with Random Axe's Guilty Simpson, and longtime collaborator, Brownsville's KA. In honing his craft, Roc is deliberately hands-off with artists. "I don't come to people with concepts, unless we have to follow the guidelines of the track," he admits. "If I'm workin' with somebody, I want them to do what they feel. I don't want to govern a project too heavily. I'd rather just everybody do what they naturally do." Additionally, the Los Angeles-based New Yorker also only makes music when he's compelled. "The only time I really listen to music is when I'm about to do some creating," he says, referring to music beyond the N.W.A., Max B, and Erick Sermon in his current car stash. "That's when I start doing my digging. I did some record shopping today. I'll listen to the records tomorrow, or whenever I feel. I make the beats as I get the samples. I gather samples and push 'em aside to track the record." With the third LP, Roc looks forward to offering an array of videos. "It's important for people to see records come to life. I'm trying to do more of that," said Roc, who hopes this project awakens more of his peers in addition to the growing fan-base. "People can now see how I do albums, and become more comfortable with it. Hopefully, more artists I respect can ask me to produce." In his trademark dry nature, the double-threat looks ahead and says, "I don't only just wanna be rappin'."
In between skate parks and street corners is where you will find the music of Vast Aire. A NYC native whose influences range from Comic Books, Nintendo Games, Japanese Anime and the Metaphysical Sciences. An artist who has been influenced by a variety of music and has affected a new generation of musicians. Cannibal Ox’s “Cold Vein” is considered a modern classic album not just in Hip Hop but in all musical genres. Vast Aire, who was responsible for much of the creation and development of that album, has now made another classic. “Cold Vein” which was released in 2001, is now followed up by “OX 2010: a street odyssey”. The feel is both spacey and epic and explores a new style for Vast Aire called “Simplex” which is simple ideas but explored in a complex manner. Much like the Kubrick masterpiece about the darker side of mankind, Vast Aire explores the darker side of himself. The writing for this record pushes Vast Aire into new territories, with deeper more profound ideas and codes to keep listeners and critics decyphering. It is rare for an artist to follow up to a classic album a decade later. With “OX 2010,” Vast Aire certainly has returned.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
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