Marco Polo: Port Authority


Marco Polo
Port Authority

It's 2007—do you know where your legends are? Marco Polo, beatmaker extraordinaire from NYC by way of Toronto, certainly does. Mixing sonics inspired by the saints of the NY sound—most notably Premier, Buckshot, and the Soul Brother—with a collection of MCs handpicked by M.P., "Port Authority" is nothing more or less than a dope slice of hip-hop pizza. Say it with me: BOOM BAP.

Unabashedly old school, Polo is stuck firmly in the mid-'90s universe of rap for its own sake, back when Gza was swinging liquid swords and Nas had that New York state of mind. Polo's beat selection is universally excellent, with nary a sleeper; we get hype, ethereal, grimy, bouncy, and straight-up banging, but never boring, thanks to plenty of crate-digging and a sprinkling of flourishes—a classic vocal sample, an expert scratch or two—that bring cohesion and tradition. The MCs here (including Polo childhood heroes such as G. Rap, O.C., and Masta Ace, as well as current collaborators Wordsworth and Supastition) are pros, effortlessly killing three-plus verses and delivering catchy-as-hell hooks like it was just another day at the job. As living proof, the project gives numerous proclamations that Nas didn't quite get it right. Hip hop ain't dead yet. It might just be that old man tsk-tsking his delinquent offspring, heavily nostalgic, unaware he was in the midst of the golden age until it was too late. We used to love H.E.R., but M.P. shows we can still catch glimpses, experiencing, if only for a few songs, that old bitches' magic anew.