It can be unwise to play favorites in the music biz, but maybe nobody told that to The Alchemist. “I really made an album with my favorite rapper and it drops tonight at midnight,” the producer tweeted ahead of the release of his and Roc Marciano’s The Elephant Man’s Bones. “I’m tripping.” Hempstead, Long Island-originating Marciano is no stranger to peer adulation, however. His time as a recording artist dates at least as far back as a stint with Busta Rhymes’ late-’90s Flipmode Squad collective, but the name he has today was made from the string of gritty and impressive solo projects he released across the 2010s. You do need a specific kind of ear to fully appreciate the MC. Roc Marciano raps in the kind of street code that reveals itself to be genius to those who can grasp its nuances. Take this couplet from The Elephant Man’s Bones’ “Daddy Kane”: “I been getting off that soft white long before shorties was rocking Off-White/Water-colored ice, I call it Walter White/Walk with me like a dog might, I got 44 bulldogs, you ain’t got a dog in the fight.” The bars themselves are less complex than they are both slimy and razor-sharp. These are raps to be heeded and, maybe more importantly, enjoyed at a safe distance. Unless, of course, you’re The Alchemist—or album guests Action Bronson, Boldy James, Ice-T, or Knowledge the Pirate—in which case you can’t wait to add some of your own ingredients to Marciano’s cauldron.