Fresh from releasing his second album of the year, Roc Marciano is back for the third time with KAOS—a concise, 10-song project that sees the Long Island rapper teaming up with DJ Muggs of Cypress Hill. KAOS is meant to soundtrack an upcoming feature film of the same name, which will follow fictionalized versions of Marci and Muggs as they come up together in New York City. The album stands on its own, though, thanks in large part to the duo’s easy musical chemistry. Roc Marciano’s gritty, diaristic flows pay homage to New York forebears like RZA and Prodigy, and have long been a consistent feature of the city’s slowly revitalizing rap scene, even as he’s stood apart from younger, flashier, and fashion-focused artists like A$AP Rocky and Sheck Wes. Over an array of Muggs’ finest beats, Marci manages to offer a snapshot of two lives in sharp greyscale.
The album’s second track, “Dolph Lundgren,” is both a boast and a warning shot, with Marci coming at you straight-up from the first line: “Trust ain’t never been my strongest attribute / I’m not tripping, I’m just doing what I have to do.” Throughout the track, Marci flexes his significant lyrical abilities while still remaining directly and uncompromisingly honest. “I need ‘em to see this, the scene resembles Egypt,” he raps. “I was lucid dreaming while squeezing my beautiful penis.” There’s humor and dexterity there, but the line also exemplifies Marci’s ability to deftly blend the luxurious with the sinister. On Muggs’ end, soft piano and gauzy guitar riffs drift in and out of a suitably dreamlike instrumental. The beat is a perfect showcase for Marciano, whose rhymes tend to land best over brooding soundscapes.
For Marci and Muggs, the music is more than bars or beats—KAOS is a partnership in every sense of the word. “Dolph Lundgren” is especially a testament to that partnership, and to Roc Marciano’s perennial status as one of New York’s most criminally underrated MCs.