Roc Marciano's second solo album bares some bad signs. There's the plain and obvious album title, previously used by over 50 other artists. More glaringly, there's the matter of the beats not knocking as much as they did on Marcberg. Unlike that album, Reloaded is not produced entirely by Marciano. The Alchemist, Ray West, Q-Tip, and Arch Druids combine for one-third of the productions. The knee-jerk, one-listen reaction is one of skepticism: Marciano must be less inspired here, right? One couldn't really blame the MC for being a little complacent or winded after releasing a debut as nonchalantly devastating as Marcberg. However, those who are acutely aware of the man's loaded lyricism -- naturally delivered with stern but spirited phonetic calisthenics -- will know to devote some quality time to processing the whole thing. While some deep concentration is required to realize it, this follow-up is nearly the equal of the debut. For the most part, it's boom bap gone quiet storm -- much more so than Mobb Deep's track of the same title. Laced with dialogue from Michael Mann, Woody Allen, Blaxploitation, and slasher flicks, as well as a few other sources, the productions maintain a steady low-key mood suited for bleary 3 a.m. listening. Knowing references to soul giants -- a quick reflection about Marvin Gaye's death, then a roundabout shout to Teddy Pendergrass' women-only gigs -- only enhance the notion. Twinkling keyboards, gnarled electric guitar, and bent basslines stand out more than the drums. With rare exception, as on the bottom heavy, death-organ droning "Pistolier" -- an Alchemist beat that has Marciano justifiably amped -- the rhymes burn deeper with the same level of casual intensity: "From my view of the metropolis/I fed flakes to my tropical fish." Grim and exultant at once, this is low-profile hustling on wax at its finest. ~ Andy Kellman
Q (Magazine) (p.103) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "It's a powerful record that reconfigures the classic mid-'90s New York sound more skilfully than anyone's done for some time."