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Roc Marciano Was Originally Part of Busta Rhymes’ Crew, Flipmode Squad

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Over the past decade, Long Island’s Roc Marciano has developed the reputation as one of the very best rapper-producers in the game.

A string of releases in 2010s that includes Marcberg, Reloaded and Marci Beaucoup no doubt set the foundation for the Griselda lofi, gritty boom-bap wave years later. More recently, the underground legend has been focused on producing collaboration albums with rappers like Stove God Cooks and Flee Lord.

But while Marciano made his name in the 2010s, his recording career extends all the way back to the ’90s, when he first met fellow Long Island native, Busta Rhymes.

“Just being in Long Island – where I’m from, if somebody is nice, you can’t really hide a dude under the hat like that,” Marciano recalled in an interview with unkut. “He knew about me before the UN.”

Around this time, Busta had already broken up with Leaders of the New School, after he was encouraged to go solo by Dante Ross following a star-making performance on Tribe’s “Scenario.” Busta signed to Elektra Records as a solo artist and was given an imprint, Flipmode Entertainment, so he was on the look-out for new talent to sign.

“Busta was interested in signing me as a teenager, when he first started Flipmode when he broke off from the Leaders [of the New School],” Marciano told unkut. “I’ve known Busta since then. His younger brother, which is my peer, we went to school together – six degrees of separation. He had got a hold of a tape that me and a couple of other cats had done back in the days.”

Marciano joined Busta’s crew, Flipmode Squad, becoming the sixth member and replacing Lord Have Mercy who had recently left. He made one of his very first record appearances on “The Heist” with Busta, Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, a cut off Anarchy. Roc left Flipmode Squad in 2001 to form the U.N. with Dino Brave, Laku and Mic Raw; they released their only album, UN or U Out, in 2004 via 456 Entertainment.

Roc Marciano: The UN was doing a deal with Loud Records before it shut down. That was actually the plan. So Steve [Rifkind] was already aware of us, and wanted to work with us, because we were working closely with Schott Free and Matty C. We put The UN shit out on the underground, it made some noise, but like I said it just didn’t pop. But I think in the process of making that project, dudes got to really see what I could really do, as far as my producing qualities. Everyone in the crew would have to agree that I pretty much executive produced that project and A&R’d it. I picked most of the beats, and made sure I was spearheading what the music would sound like.

The Making of Marcberg with Roc Marciano (2014)

In 2018, almost 30 years after he met and signed Roc Marciano, Busta Rhymes popped up at his former artist’s live show at the Highline Ballroom in Manhattan and revealed that Roc was in his top 5 best rappers alive.

“When I say Roc Marci is my top 5 MC ever, there’s a whole lot of science behind that,” Busta said. “The God Roc Marciano is a godsend. The precision, his ability to be an incredible architect with words. The man is a craftsman with the pen.”

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