Ten years ago the U.N., a rap group consisting of Dino Brave, Mike Raw, Laku, and most notably, Roc Marciano (before his solo career as the preeminent whispering, scowling rap hero), released a little record titled UN Or U Out. With production from heroes Pete Rock, Large Professor, and Roc himself (who took their sample-slicing heroics to an even more obsessive level), the release was never truly afforded the cult classic status it deserved. Blame that, in part, on its strange standing in mid-2000s hip-hop: Released by 456 Entertainment, a record label co-founded by MTV VJ and low-key canny tastemaker Carson Daly, it was a tribute to the grimy boom-bap that wasn’t quite old enough to be considered classic, nor new enough to make a real impact. A decade later, the furious album is not only a hint at what Roc Marciano would go on to do on albums like Marcberg and Reloaded, but a touchstone in the Neo-NYC Rap Renaissance; one that included Roc alongside artists like Action Bronson, Ka, Maffew Ragazino, and many more rugged and raw rap resurrectors.
If this is your first time hearing UN Or U Out, you’re in for a treat. Consider starting with the Pete Rock-produced “Game of Death” and work your way into the rummy record from there. The record is due out April 15 on Fat Beats/Frozen Files and even comes with a new color vinyl release just in time for Record Store Day.