Marco Polo Hometown Boy

Marco Polo Hometown Boy
Photo: Robert Adam Mayer
Marco Polo is back on the boards with his latest release, PA:2 The Director's Cut, which is brimming with classic throwback beats and lyrics served up by a who's who of underground rap talent. Exclaim! caught up with the Toronto production wiz to talk shop on everything from the new record, why he's called NYC home for so long, the current situation of our fine city's headline-grabbing mayor and why J Crew might be hip-hop's new unofficial clothier.

Thanks for taking the time to do this. So you're the hometown boy who moved to the "City That Never Sleeps" back in 2000 to hone his craft. What's it like to be back in the T-Dot?
It's great. Toronto is always home to me even though I've been in Brooklyn for 10-plus years. Crack Dot!

Why the move to NYC? Did you feel your options were limited here at home? I think it's fair to say that's changed here in the city in recent years. What are your thoughts?
I was motivated and had my mind set on moving to NYC to make something happen from the beginning. Back then I did feel more doors would open being in the thick of it. Definitely not as important to relocate in 2013. Toronto is setting trends now. It's beautiful.

You think Mayor Ford has lent Toronto some street credibility on the world stage with his, shall we say, gangsterism? Or is it just a bad look plain and simple and can he recover and get re-elected?
I think it's pure comedy. Just because we got a crack-smoking mayor doesn't mean Toronto still isn't one of the greatest cities in the world! Rob Ford is a wild dude though, haha.

Can you break down how recording for your new album PA:2 The Director's Cut went?
Five years of material accumulated from steady recording. A lot of casualties a long the way. A lot of Newports & caffeine consumed. After it's released I'm going on vacation to celebrate. Probably Thailand or Argentina because I'm a worldly young lad.

You've got a shitload of talent on the album from Rah Digga, Large Professor and Gangrene (Oh No and Alchemist) to Ill Bill, Blaq Poet and Kardi. Many dope tracks for sure, but everyone is talking about "3-O-Clock." the unofficial Organized Konfusion reunion track. How did that happen and what was it like hitting the lab with Pharoahe Monch and Prince Po?
Thank you. "3-O-Clock" was originally suppose to be Monch and another MC I'm a fan of who will remain nameless. Said nameless MC wanted a grip of money to be on the track so that got deaded real quick. Everything happens for a reason though. I asked Monch to ask Po. Rest is history. Respect to the legends!

I understand you received support and positive feedback from Guru's friends and family for your tribute track "G.U.R.U" featuring Talib Kweli and Preemo. How does that make you feel? I saw Gang Starr ages ago in the late '90s at the Guv. Mindblowing.
That song is a blessing. The Elam family co-signing the song and video was the best validation. We made it for GURU and his contributions to music. RIP GURU!

Masta Ace (who's obviously on the record) is referred to as your "big bro" in your press release. For those that don't know the backstory, explain how you two first connected and why you two vibe off each other so well.
I first met Young Duval aka "da god of salmon" aka Masta Ace at the Cutting Room. We worked on "do it man" for a long hot summer LP. Then knocked out "Nostalgia." I eventually became his touring musical director aka MPd-j. We both sober and old grumpy men so its perfect on the road. I'm sure my ADD tests his patience at times but he has become a big brother and mentor to me.

What's the game plan for support for PA:2 The Director's Cut? You're having a record release party tonight at Parts and Labour here in our fine city; but are there tour dates locked in for North America or anywhere else?
I'll be touring Europe and hopefully Australia. Maybe Canada too. It's all being worked out now. Look out for me in your country soon.

On a side note, (you won't remember) I met you briefly last Xmas at J Crew at Vaughan Mills while doing some shopping. I thought I was the only hip-hop head that shopped there! Haha
J-Crew is my new grown man attire. Can't be wearing XL tees when I'm clearly a medium and now in my early 30s haha JCREW IS SO HIP HOP YO!

Anything you want to let your hometown fans know as we wrap this up?
I miss California Sandwiches, Terroni and Toronto women. Love to all the fans that support me here.