Look at what time it is! It’s ALCHEMIST O’ CLOCK!!
Once again, someone lined up The Alchemist to produce an entire album for them. This year, he has made a healthy amount of work from collaborating with Curren$y on Continuance earlier this year to Boldy James twice last year (Super Tecmo Bo came near the end of December so yes, I’m counting that as a 2022 album entry!) and producing some select tracks this year for the likes of Benny The Butcher, Conway, Earl Sweatshirt and especially Kendrick Lamar with “We Cry Together.” Now, he’s teaming up with someone who’s no stranger to him and that’s Roc Marciano.
Marciano is still continuing on with his work after past projects like Marcielago and Mt. Marci in 2019 and 2020 respectively, and even producing some projects for other rappers as well with Flee Lord and notable underground MC Stove God Cooks. Now we got some new-ish from these two and I’m eagerly anticipating to see how it’ll go.
So how are The Elephant Man’s Bones?
First, I’d say this for the last two Alchemist-produced projects: Super Tecmo Bo was slightly impressive as a lean and mean project from Boldy James, and Continuance is a decent project from Curren$y with a few tracks I keep going back to (particularly “Corvette Rally Stripes”). With this… it’s currently my top favorite Alchemist project of this year.
Like Boldy James, Roc Marciano is the type of rapper that is probably not everybody’s cup of tea. He often raps about his pimp and street shit, his delivery is monotone but with a menacing and gruff tone that makes me take him seriously when he goes on about that life. It also works that he often raps on drum-less production so his voice and delivery is more dynamic going in; although there is mostly some percussion used in some tracks but they’re never overbearing or take over the track, they blend in seamlessly.
The opening track “Rubber Hand Grip” got this tinny jingle-bell production with Roc spittin’ out:
This is Hoorsenbuhs, you should Google it
My love language is another matrix
Screw your baby mother like some Cartier love bracelets
Hеrmès blankets, that’s a blanket statemеnt
Need more than handkerchief ’cause we covering all the basics
Might yank you out the whip, strip you naked (Get over here)
Niggas comparing MJ to “Weird Al” Yankovic (Huh?)
The first single from this “Deja Vu” and to quote Rob from Decibel Boost #278, about the aesthetic of this song and most of the production: ‘This is what I imagine plays in the background of the finest top quality pawn shops of NYC and I mean that in the best way possible.’ Yes, this song definitely has that. Of course, with some choice bars on there.
Might click off your light switch, but my heart is righteous
As an artist, I’m often slighted
Y’all must be on that Barbra Streisand (Coked up)
High like the coke prices, sacrifice the goat as lifeless
Ho said the homie gaslighting, that’s what she told a psychic
I was just gassin’ that old white bitch (Gassin’)
There is also some braggadocio, flaunting, and flexing but not in the way you would normally expect, especially on “Quantum Leap” where he says his body is quality over quantity, as in he doesn’t just release anything out there. The title track “The Elephant Man’s Bones” has this gorgeous soul sample with the classic piano sound and Roc just sounds incredible on this.
Oh, and like most projects of his, the features are lean, mean, and they deliver on their verses. Action Bronson appears on “Daddy Kane” with this beat that absolutely bumps whenever I play it; Boldy James was solid on “Trillion Cut”; Knowledge The Pirate does his thing on “Zip Guns,” and I admit that I was surprised we got an Ice-T feature on this album as he’s on the song “The Horns of Abraxas,” but the thing is Ice-T isn’t doing any rapping on here: he’s doing dialogue on getting rid of a body, dumping it off somewhere. It wasn’t what I expected but the beat and song overall is pretty solid.
Overall, I dig the hell out of this album. It’s continuing the streak of good to great collab albums with the Alchemist, and he has made some exquisite and cinematic beats that goes great with Roc’s lyrics and has that grim street yet opulent vibe you always get from him. It’s definitely highly recommended if you’re looking for some underground hip-hop with a little edge to it.
FINAL VERDICT: BUY IT! Someone’s bones could end up being someone’s treasure.
THE ELEPHANT MAN’S BONES is on ALC Records/Marci Enterprises/EMPIRE. You can purchase the album via The Official Roc Marciano Store on CD, digital download, vinyl, cassette or listen to it on streaming services.