The name Marco Polo may not ring many bells outside of swimming pools and world history classes, but the Toronto-bred producer who goes by that handle is looking to change things. After working with OGs like Boot Camp Clik and Masta Ace, among others, Polo signed a deal with the recently reborn Rawkus to put out his debut compilation, Port Authority.
Be warned: This is not an album full of club bangers or street anthems. Employing some of the East Coast’s finest vets and samples, the LP sees Polo and company partying like it’s 1990-something. On the dusty “Marquee,” O.C. resurrects his swag over swirling harps (“The phoenix has risen from the ashes/With puff, puff, passin’/Weed inside them backwoods/I’m just that good”). The Veterans Day parade continues on the aptly titled “Nostalgia,” where, over somber guitars, Masta Ace reminisces about how he used to love H.E.R. Similarly, Kool G. Rap spits like an automatic weapon on “Hood Tales,” while “The Radar” finds Large Professor abusing some chopped-up psychedelic guitars with his b-boy bravado.
While relative newcomers like Roc Marciano (“Lay It Down”) and Jo Jo Pellegrino (“Speak Softly”) fare just as well as their experienced predecessors, the album’s only flaw is that it’s a little bit too much of a good thing. Eighteen tracks deep and clocking in at over 71 minutes, Port Authority begins to tread some of the same ground about two-thirds of the way through. Tracks like the underground posse cut “Low Budget All-Stars” and Kardinal Offishall’s wack MC diatribe “War” are more likely to make listeners nod off than nod their heads in reverence. Aside from that, there ain’t no need to question Polo’s authority. —TIMMHOTEP AKU