Who is Marco Polo? The T Dot native has been creeping in the shadows of production for quite some time. From lacing Masta Ace’s Long Hot Summer to Boot Camp Click’s The Last Stand, Polo’s production has been appreciated, but without a name or a face to attach with it. Now comes Marco Polo’s chance to bring attention to himself with the self produced album entitled Port Authority. With a collection of guests that will tickle many hip hop heads fancies, can Marco Polo compliment them with the perfect backdrop?
Marco has yet to be pigeonholed as a producer with a certain sound and Port Authority continues to keep Marco away from a signature sound for better or worse. Instead of being defined by one distinct style, Marco instead produces tracks with each artist in mind. Basically it is how he envisions the emcee and what type of beat he should rhyme to. Case in point is the breezy horns of “Go Around” that seems to fit Buckshot’s slow drawl perfectly. “Low Budget All Stars” sounds like something Kev Brown would have concocted for himself, Cy Young, Oddisee, Kenn Starr and Kaimbr. While it does treat us to solid songs, it doesn’t require the artist to do too much of a stretch to fit Marco Polo’s style.
While this may seem like some tough criticism, it doesn’t mean that Port Authority is a bad album by any means. Copywrite’s wrath on the mic is resurrected on the surging “Get Busy”, as he completely massacres the track. “Get Busy” plays out as the perfect re-introduction to the Ohio emcee who possesses some of the most witty and clever punchlines around. Elsewhere, Jayshaun romps on amongst the looping pianos and repeating vocal sample of “All My Love”, while OC brings it back to the mid-nineties on “Marquee”. Marco also smooths it out brilliantly with up and coming duo J*Davey on “Relax”. The song beckons the soothing vibes of Tribe Called Quest’s “Electric Relaxation”, as Miss Jack Davey reinterprets the memorable lyrics with a feminine twist.
In the end, Marco Polo’s greatest gift and curse is his ability to not have a signature sound. For some, that means that he can never grow stale, but for others it means that he will never be defined. Either way, Port Authority is an enjoyable listen that is definitely worth a listen.
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