"My album sounds like my sh-t. It doesn't sound like his sh-t or his sh-t. It sounds like my sh-t because it's coming from me and where I come from."
The place rapper/producer Roc Marciano comes from is Long Island, NY, with a childhood steeped in late-night hip hop radio absorbing the work of vaunted producers like Pete Rock, DJ Premier and Large Professor. Last year's fantastic Reloaded, his second album after 2010's Marcberg, pays homage to the gritty, ominous soul samples used by his idols without succumbing to the nostalgist tendencies of his peers.
2013 should be an equally big year for Roc. The producer already has two albums finished—one featuring Roc's production and rhymes, the other production-only with featured rappers—and is working on collaborative albums with rapper Ka (collectively known as Metal Clergy) and L.A. group Arch Druids. For now, though, the rapper looks back, sharing the five beats that changed his life.
1. Ultramagnetic MC's, "Ego Trippin'" (1988)
This was the first beat that blew me away and made me be like, "Wow. What's that?" I probably heard it staying up late listening to Mr. Magic or Marley Marl. When they came on, that's when you got to hear stuff like that. I remember this song sounding like science project music. I never heard anything like it.
2. EPMD, "It's My Thing" (1988)
This takes me back to my childhood days with people having basement parties and stuff like that. The helicopters come in and the walkie-talkies and then that beat comes in and it's like, "Damn." That's just one of the greatest beats ever. It's just a beautiful piece of music.
3. Main Source, "Just Hangin' Out" (1991)
That's that music I love. As far as beats and production, it don't get no better than this. I wish I produced this. Around that time, Large Pro was my favorite producer. I loved Primo, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, but Large had a special place for me as a producer. The music and the samples that he picked was mind-blowing to me. Nobody can f-ck with the mad scientist.
4. Pete Rock & CL Smooth, "They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)" (1992)
I gravitated towards it for the same reason that everybody gravitated towards it: those horns. When you hear that horn, everything stops. If somebody was playing that track to this day, and you heard it bumping out of a neighbor's door, you'd have to knock on that sh-t like, "What was that?" Pete did it with that one. Pete's a master. You can play that beat to anybody—your mother, your grandmother—and if they had any doubts with what you were doing with your life and you played them a beat like that, they'd probably say, "Okay, we support you. We get it."
5. Notorious B.I.G., "Who Shot Ya" (1995)
If I could go into the studio every day and the beat sounded like "Who Shot Ya?," I'm happy. That's from David Porter's "I'm Afraid the Masquerade Is Over" and that's one of my favorite soul songs. I heard the sample first. If I'd have heard Wright's album first, I'd have done that beat. "Who Shot Ya?" is just real good soul music. Soul music is basically the root of what I do as a producer.
Oh, Lady Gaga. You're the best.