Go ahead and test Maarquii's patience. The Portland MC is prepared for you.
"They call me a bitch and I might be/I got shit to do/And I do not take it lightly," Maarquii raps on "Taalk Shit" from C.A.B.O., their debut album that was self-released this week.
In the two years they've been releasing material as Maarquii, Marquise Dickerson has provided an endless supply of mantras for anyone who's done putting up with bullshit. "Dam God," one of Dickerson's earliest singles, graciously gave us the line, "Pussy pop in a handstand at your funeral." You can either bask in Dickerson's confidence, get your own or get out of the way.
So it's not surprising the MC's first album is both charged up and smouldering. The beats by production team JVNITOR are deep, simmering and minimal. Dickerson's delivery ranges from sneering to an aloof swagger. Even with its menacing beats, C.A.B.O. is deeply playful—Dickerson giggles on every other song, and their hard-hitting verses break into audacious whims, like when Dickerson repeats, "You're tacky hoe/You're tacky hoe/You're tacky," on the title track.
But most of all, C.A.B.O. cements Dickerson's ability to drop lines that get stuck in your head like self-contained fuck-off anthems. Dickerson delivers the hook on "Taalk Shit" with a loose strut—"Trippin' ass hoes/You pressed over Instagram woes." On the title track, Dickerson practically seethes with the hook, "It ain't nothing cut a bitch off." Basically every song on C.A.B.O. boasts about riding dick, looking fine and obliterating bullshit. It is impossible to make it through a single track on C.A.B.O. without feeling like a bad bitch.
C.A.B.O. isn't all armor, though. Album-closing "Venus in Cancer" is one the few melodic tracks. Confessional and drenched in angelic synths, it's a rare moment that's closer to a Beyoncé ballad than Leikeli47's raw rap. "Boy I'm just saying/You did me wrong," Dickerson sings with syrupy, pining vocals. "And the more I say it/The more I claim it."
But even in C.A.B.O.'s most vulnerable moments, Dickerson hardly sounds daunted. Backed by soft dancehall instrumentals, "Yung Steinway" is by far the most introspective song on the album. Midway through it, Maarquii raps, "My momma praying for me/Know I'm going straight to hell." It seems like a tragic line, until Maarquii continues and breaks into a light laugh: "She want me to go to church/But I'm casting spells/Young witch/A sun witch/Grinding for the bag/Because I'm that bitch."
Underneath the swagger and the openness of C.A.B.O., the bottom line is always clear. "I got goals and I'm tryna get paid," Dickerson raps in one of the final bars of "Yung Steinway." By that point on the album, it's clear Maarquii isn't going to tolerate anything less.
HEAR IT: C.A.B.O. is available on Bandcamp, SoundCloud and Spotify.