Roc Marciano has been prolific as both MC and beatmaker over the last decade. Nearly an album a year under his own name as well as collaborations (DJ Muggs) and cameos. And of course those free mixtapes too.
Pimpstrumentals is his second full-lengther in under a year and as the title heavily hints this is all instrumental. A showcase for Roc the beatmaker and producer – no vocals this time around.
It’s a great set of mostly jazz, soul-inflected cuts, but things also go psychedelic-rock (Box Cutters) and there are some classically-influenced piano pieces (Gun Collector, Smoke n Mirrors).
Of course the gold standard for this sort of thing is Pete Rock with his Petestrumentals (1) and 2 – which is clearly an influence on this album, by title alone. Dr Dre’s 2001 instrumental and almost anything (particularly the posthumous releases) by J Dilla are also obvious touchstones. And on a track like Basic Training, Marciano is all but tracing around those blueprints.
What I like about this set of tunes is when Roc reaches out, stretching the songs and his idea of a hook, as on Smash – which is effectively a very short loop, but it defies the logic of that by feeling like some sort of spacey jam. Very Dilla-esque in that sense.
There are nice folk-rock samples (Holy Man) and bits of vintage R’n’B/funk (Scare Tactics) as well as brand new funk that’s been made to feel retro (Jackson End).
It pays to keep ears open and eyes wide – anyone that long ago wrote of rap or hip-hop as genres they’re not interested in is missing out here. At it’s very best this carries with it the feel and flow of those pioneering David Axelrod productions that have been so influential.
And there’s some serious quirk here (Burnt Spoons), the weird (Clad Iron) and wonderful (Passion Fruit).
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