(AllHipHop Features) Six years ago music producer Marco Polo released his critically acclaimed album Port Authority. In the interim the Toronto native has provided tracks for Hip Hop heavy hitters like KRS-One, Masta Ace, Talib Kweli, Large Professor, and Canibus, but now the Toronto native is back with the next phase in the Port Authority story.
Post Authority 2: The Director’s Cut is a project five years in the making. Due to scheduling issues from working on other projects, Polo was not able to complete the album until this year. While the country has undergone two presidential elections and LeBron James picked up back-to-back NBA championships since the first installment hit stores, in Polo’s eyes the quality of the work is paramount to the amount of time committed to completing it.
“I was really trying to make the best album,” says Polo. “The first one was really well received which is a blessing, so I wanted to make sure that if I ever did a follow-up that it was better. There’s no point putting out music if you’re not progressing.”
Many of Polo’s long time musical collaborators make appearances on the LP. Fellow Canadian Hip Hop representative Kardinal Offishal joins with M.O.P.’s Lil Fame and The Lox’s Styles P for “What They Say.” Large Professor, Inspectah Deck, O.C., and Tragedy Khadafi spit bars over “Astonishing.” On “G.U.R.U.,” Talib and Polo’s biggest artistic influence, DJ Premier, pay homage to the late Gang Starr member.
Even with various voices contributing to many of the tracks there is still a synergy that is evident on each record. This is largely because Polo meticulously selects which emcees to combine together and also because the 10 year vet has not conceded to the practice of just e-mailing beats to artists. He prefers to be in the space with them as they construct their verses.
“A lot of stuff these days is done through the internet and no one really communicates, vibes, or gets in the lab. All that type of s**t makes a real big difference when you’re creating music,” says Polo. “Instead of just having three really popular rappers on a beat for no reason that on paper looks really cool but doesn’t really resonate and last over time, I’m really trying to make songs that you can listen to in 10, 20 years and still be good.”
Polo also broke with the modern norm of limited albums to 12 songs or fewer. PA2 is a 19-track opus that also includes skits showcasing Polo’s “Canadianism” by borrowing vocal samples from the famous Canuck comedy duo of Bob and Doug MacKenzie. The skits, songs, and interlude together total over an hour. The 80 minute running time for Port Authority 2 is an extension of theme established by the album’s subtitle - The Director’s Cut.
“I called it The Director’s Cut because it’s the long version,” explains Polo. “When you go cop a DVD in the store you can get the regular or you can get the director’s cut which is the unedited full version.”
Besides drawing inspiration from filmmaking for the album’s name, Polo also drafted an established star from Hollywood to serve as the narrator for the project. Hip Hop head Michael Rapaport, of Higher Learning fame, opens the album. The director of the A Tribe Called Quest documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life and the Brooklyn-based rap producer first met through Masta Ace and then connected again on social media.
“He started following me on Twitter, and I shot him a message like, ‘Yo, you wanna do some vocal skits for my album?’ He hit me back right away like, ‘Yep. Whatever you need me to do I’ll do it’,” reveals Polo. “It was a surprise and a blessing. He came through the studio and did a bunch of vocal clips and the intro. It really helped tie the whole theme of the director’s cut together.”
Making the decision to go with a sequel to Port Authority and having half a decade to complete it, Polo knows his latest work is going to be judged at a high level. He welcomes the challenge and believes PA2 will satisfy those listeners looking for a complete, authentic Hip Hop project upgraded for 2013.
“It’s definitely going to be appreciated by people who like to pop something in and listen top to bottom,” says Polo. “It’s meant for people that appreciate the art of making an album.”
Port Authority 2: The Director's Cut is available on iTunes.