King Mariano is an upcoming rapper from New Jersey. Kicking off his musical journey, the young mc has given us a series of personal works from his heart with the Roses series. This year, Mariano has given us the third installment of this series, and I can say that this is his best project yet. While King Mariano has managed to improve on every aspect of his artistry at this point, he still has a long way to go if he wants to reach true greatness.
King Mariano’s Performance:
As Roses III is still a part of the entry phase of King Mariano’s journey into the hip-hop world, his performance is hands down the most vital aspect of this record. While certain points of Mariano’s showing on this album can be lackluster and underwhelming, he makes us remember him by the end. Throughout the entirety of this record, King Mariano manages to keep things so personal. While on previous records, certain verses were vague, King Mariano pinpoints his exact story and feelings on this record. As listeners, we are able to clearly understand his motives and conflicts because of this direct style of writing which is a major improvement and suffers from being too in your face at times. As the Jersey rapper harps on every detail of his experiences and conflicts, the approach to the storytelling crams too many unnecessary details in. This does not give listeners a chance to resonate with the powerful emotions Mariano is trying to get across and just makes a lot of the narrative feel forced fed to us. While this is one of the project’s major flaw, Mariano does also display some solid moments of storytelling, and beyond the record narrative compass, the technical ability of his wordplay offers a lot to hip-hop heads.
Roses III’s narrative is centered around two major story points. King Mariano focuses on his past relationship while also discussing his struggles with addiction and substance abuse. Looking at the storytelling about this past relationship in his life, while you can see a faint vision for the message he was trying to put together, the entire explanation of this heartbreak just feels so poorly done. The track “You Know I Love You pt. 1” demonstrates the problems with this style of storytelling best. While some of the punchlines are pretty witty, certain lines like “she rides me like a segway” break the story’s immersion because it sounds offputting. While a suitable delivery for a bar like this could add to the track, the ghostly style Mariano uses here sets the tone of his verse to be painfilled and hopeless. While bars like these are a problem, the bigger issue with Mariano’s performance culminates to how overly direct and, consequently, clunky the storytelling ends up. To fix this issue going forward, I think Mariano should tell stories more subtly, using more clever wordplay and interpretive elements to create a tale that has more replay value and emotional resonance with listeners.
Where Roses III is at its most compelling is when Mariano talks about his inner struggles, which mainly center around addiction. Mariano’s lyrics and tracks about his relationship with alcohol and drugs feel much more grounded in both their compass and execution. Mariano’s self-conflicts are heartbreaking to hear, but this is what makes them so special. “School For the Scum” is one of the best moments on the record due to how Mariano’s pain bleeds through his writing and delivery. The shame and guilt he has for his past is something that listeners can understand and connect with. When making art, it is never easy to get vulnerable and put your struggles out for the entire world. While Mariano’s darkest moments have varied results in terms of their musical execution, he shows that he is a special mc who has so much potential going forward when it comes to creating gripping emotional statements.
Another aspect of Roses III, which feels much improved compared to King Mariano’s past record, is in terms of King Mariano’s overall vision as an artist. From start to finish, Roses III feels like a project that was put together very coherently both in terms of its pacing and its structure. From the way King Mariano decides to progressively build and expand upon the record’s core ideas to the sound and feel of each track, Roses III feels so focused in its presentation. King Mariano also noticeably improves when it comes to making memorable hooks and bridges, and the way he changes the pitch of his voice to create emotional riffs during certain tracks is something that works very well to add flare to the record. While some of the other aspects of this project hold it down, the artistic vision King Mariano shows proves that he is a full-fledged hip-hop artist who will be able to create much more complex and intricate tracks structurally going forward.
Gluing the entire album together, the production of Roses III gives the record a cohesive score that contains some amazing-sounding beats. Rapping over minimally produced abstract hip-hop beats, King Mariano gives himself the perfect sonic playing field to build this project through. The production choices on this record go hand in hand with the advanced artistry shown by Mariano as they work to give Roses III a strong musical foundation. King Mariano’s ear for beats has always been a strength, and he once again shows that here. The track “School For the Scum” is one of the best-produced tracks, with its beautiful soul sample and well-placed drums. The hard-hitting “Too Stubborn To Listen” and faint “Shepherds” with other instrumental standouts with their memorable loops complemented the rest of the track quite well.
All in all, Roses III comes with its fair share of flaws, but the pros outweigh the cons as King Mariano puts his heart into a statement that embodies his inner psyche. Both as an artist and a person, King Mariano makes this album uncompromisingly his vision, and while he can improve in the future to make his stories more relatable to a wider audience, he certainly has enough heart to make any vision he wants to come to life. Going forward, I am more excited for future projects from King Mariano than ever and hope to see him improve and deliver on the potential that the entire series of Roses projects displayed.
- School For the Scum
- For Me
- Too Stubborn To Listen
- You Know I Love You Pt. II
- Somewhere In the Mountains
- You Know I Love You pt. I