Marco Polo: Port Authority

Self-proclaimed as his ode to Pete Rock’s Soul Survivor LP, Marco Polo’s debut album Port Authority (Rawkus) lives up to that lofty standard. The Toronto-born, Brooklyn-bred producer takes you back to a time when Hip-Hop really did live at Hot 97 and fans still got excited when albums dropped. Overall, Port Authority is reminiscent of mid-90s Hip-Hop but sounds nostalgic, never dated.Bursting with fresh, original production; Polo’s tracks are so distinct it’s hard to believe that all 18 joints were done by the one man band himself. Rooted in gutter East Coast boom-bap, Polo’s hasn’t found a signature sound yet but all of the tracks are undeniably dope. Ranging from neck-snapping beats chock full of cleverly used samples to melodic, moody tracks, Polo’s sound is refreshing in this era of microwave Hip-Hop.Standout tracks include Critically Acclaimed’s lushly hypnotic “For the Future” where Polo combines angelic chimes and strings over a head-nodding beat while “The Radar” is a funky juxtaposition of hard drums, bass and horns replete with Premo-esque scratches.Although the album's obvious strength is its production, there are more than a few pleasant lyrical surprises on the LP. “Get Busy” finds underground emcee Copywrite doing just that, dropping endless punch lines, similes and metaphors devoid of guns, girls and gangsterisms. Other highlights include the haunting “Marquee” featuring DITC vet O.C. and the guitar and bass driven posse cut “Low Budget All-Stars” featuring Kev Brown, Ken Starr, Cy Young and Oddisee.Like the classic aforementioned Soul Survivor, Port Authority’s potency lies in its superb tracks and first-rate guest appearances. As long as Polo continues to pay homage while pushing musical boundaries, his next joint could be a classic.