Robbie posted ‘The Specialist’ earlier today, and I’m inclined to read the ‘unreleased’ tag as ‘something from the archives, circa end of last decade.’ Despite the fact that Rock and Roc worked together frequently during the earlier (UN) years, there haven’t been many outward signs of collaboration, or even camaraderie, between the two since Marciano’s solo career took off around 2009. Hopefully I’m wrong and it is indeed a new track, but gut a feeling tells me it’s old.
‘The Specialist’ reminds me of another older collaboration between the two, a somewhat obscure song called ‘It’s So G’. This one originally appeared as a bonus track of the Japanese edition of Rock’s NY’s Finest album, then later buried deep on the b-side of the Ready Fe War 12″. Neither of these songs have any additional drums beyond those in the looped sample. While the date of origin of ‘The Specialist’ is uncertain, ‘It’s So G’ was definitely made in 2008 (or before). This is significant because it predates the current trend of ‘no drum’ productions, examples of which can be found on Marciano’s own Reloaded, Ka’s last two albums, various Alchemist productions, etc. Moreover, I’m fairly certain that at this point Marci’s own beats still had additional percussion, at least some times.
To clarify, I’m not claiming that Pete Rock invented the ‘no drums’ thing. There are examples of these kinds of beats made by other producers before 2008. But it is interesting to hear Rock, of all people, dabble with the idea. And you gotta wonder if his experiment had any influence on Marciano’s own recent production style.