Marco Polo has had a busy year. The Toronto-born, New York-based producer has dropped three albums this year—Seize The Day with Gang Starr affiliate Hannibal Stax, Newport Authority, a collection of outtakes from his vault featuring the likes of Rakim, Big Daddy Kane and M.O.P., and his most recent, Nov. 12's Port Authority 2: The Director's Cut—and has been keeping busy working on music and touring with longtime collaborator Masta Ace. PA 2, the followup to 2007's original Port Authority, is a producer album of the highest quality, boasting impressive features from a reunited Organized Konfusion, Inspectah Deck, Styles P., Lil Fame, Large Professor, Talib Kweli, DJ Premier, Posdnous, Rah Digga, Ace and a whole bunch more, with actor Michael Rapaport—who Marco describes as "the New York version of me; a nerdy white guy who fucking loves hip-hop"—narrating the project.

But the past year has been a wakeup call of many kinds for the celebrated purveyor of the New York underground. He's redoubled his emphasis on grabbing syncs from licensing, landing high-profile placements in Kickass 2 ("Danger," featuring Torae) and with the theme song for the Brooklyn Nets, a placement which began last season and has continued into this. "That's shit I can tell my parents about, instead of like, 'Hey, I did a track with Rakim,' and my mom's like, 'I don't know who that is,'" he says, laughing, during a recent stop by the XXL offices. "But I can tell her to go see Kickass 2, or my dad can go watch the Nets, and that's definitely awesome."

With PA 2 out earlier this month, Marco Polo is turning his attention to his work on Pharoahe Monch's upcoming album—on which he has a song with Monch and The Roots' Black Thought that he describes as "fucking crazy"—and Sean Price's new project, as well as additional work with international MCs from Italy and Poland. And there's always his work with Masta Ace, with whom he may be making an album with the assistance of DJ Premier. "[Ace] has done a lot for my career," Marco says. "We're always working." —Dan Rys (@danrys)