In this day and age of Hip Hop, it seems that lyricism has
taken a back seat to production. Now, people would rather nod their heads a
little more to a beat, rather than recite their favorite verse. One of the
beatsmiths leading this changing of the guard is Toronto native Marco Polo. After laying down tracks
for Masta Ace's Long Hot Summer, Pumpkinhead's
Orange Moon Over Brooklyn and Boot Camp Clik's The Last Stand, our neighbor from the north returns with his debut
compilation album, Port Authority.
Usually the formula for albums such as this one; is to recruit the biggest names in the business to attract more attention toward the project. But in true Hip Hop fashion, Marco Polo opts to go with emcees that are true to the art, instead of just who's hot at the moment. The impressive lineup is sure to put a smile on the face of any true school head.
The album starts off starts off "Get Busy," featuring Copywrite. Over a base line and piano loops, Copywrite takes us through a journey in lyrical content with a scratch-in hooks included, reminiscent of DJ Premier. "Marquee" features perennially underrated rhyme veteran O.C. for some mid-90's inspired beauty. Still displaying his signature flow from the 90's, O.C. lets us know that he still has it over Marco's incredible beat. The mellow production of "Nostalgia" brings us back to a simple time in Hip Hop, when it wasn't all flashy, and with Masta Ace playing as the narrator.
One of the standout tracks is "Go Around" where Buckshot lends a helping hand. Marco Polo slows down the tempo a little, as the Boot Camp Clik affiliate rhymes over a jazzy trumpet-laced production. On "Relax," he borrows elements from A Tribe Called Quest's "Electric Relaxation" as J-Davey does her best rendition of the classic. The real gem here has to be "The Radar" with one of Hip Hop's all-time great producers in Large Professor on the mic. If you weren't sure Marco was a dedicated student of the game, just listen to how well he channels Extra P on the boards here - crazy shit. Fellow legend Edo-G also stops through for his usual rock solid performance on "Time & Place."
It isn't all veterans holding it down though; the younger generation represents nicely as well. Jaysaun gets autobiographical over Marco's chopped vocal sample on "All My Love." JoJo Pellegrino does him one better on the ill concept track "Speak Softly." Plus you've got Wordsworth and Supastition blazing mics respectively on "Wrong One" and "Heat."
Unfortunately, there are a few letdowns here as well. The posse cut "Low Budget All Stars" featuring Oddissee, Ken Starr, CY Young, Kev Brown and Kaimbr just lacks a punch and kind of plods along. "Hood Tales" with none other than Kool G Rap and milk cartoner DV Alias Khrist doesn't quite live up to the billing either. For the most part though, Port Authority is a very solid effort from a producer that really has love for the art and culture. Just imagine if more artists shared his same passion for the music - Hip Hop would be a better place.