featured interview

Marco Polo Forza Spaghetti Bender Music! June 26, 2006. Football (American tongue: soccer) might not go hand in hand with hip-hop like basketball, but the World Cup does arouse some interest in the Land of Rap. Italy is in the 1/8 finals against Australia, so we caught up with a producer with Italian roots, Marco Polo, known for his productions for people like Pumpkinhead, Masta Ace and now the Bootcamp. Of course we spoke music too, but first...

Let's talk World Cup...Italy is in the last 16. Two victories against Ghana and the Czechs, but what went wrong against the US?

Italy didn't play so hot against the U.S. Luckily the U.S. is not such a strong team or they really could have taken advantage of Italy that day. De Rossi took a really stupid red card after we scored ourselves; they fell apart after that happened. Luckily they held on to at least leave with a point.

Who's your favourite player of the Squadra Azzurri?

I don't have a favourite player but I am really checking for what Luca Toni does in this tournament.

If Boris Becker would be in his 20s and a football player, would you support the Mannshaft?

(Laughs) Maybe. Boris Becker is a legend to me. He used to get so angry and swear at the umpire in German. Besides that he was a fantastic player!

Who will the Italians play against in the finals?

One game at a time please, I don't want to jinx anything. But, for the sake of the reader's entertainment I'm going to say Germany vs. Italy!!! (laughs)

If they wanted to make the Italian national anthem a little bit funkier, would you make a beat for it?

No way, I stay out of anything political!!!

Do you follow the Serie A?

Not at all.

What's your fav team?

Any Italian teams I support, but really I am just a bandwagon BIG tournament soccer fan. I watch World Cup and the Euro Cup only. I am not a full-blown, year-round soccer fan and I'm man enough to admit that (casts an eyewink).

Your Italian roots go back how many generations?

Good question, I think they go back far. My parents were born there, my grandparents were born there and I my great grand parents were born there. That's about all I know for sure. I was born in Canada though! I'm part of the first generation of my family born in Canada.

You go back to Italy often?

I've never been so all you Italian hip-hop promoters need to step up and bring me out for a show!

What's your favourite kind of pasta?

There is no answer to that question. If anything, I'm more into sauces then actual pasta's. I love red sauces and pasta with rapini! I'm a big penne fan as well!

No family ties with DJ Polo?

None at all.

But fo real, how did you get the name Marco Polo?

Marco is my real name. My boy Ayatollah started calling me Marco Polo way back before I even moved to NY. He came up to chill in Toronto and the whole time he called me Marco Polo and said I should rock with that.

I once saw a game called ?Marco Polo? in The Sopranos (the episode was even named after it), you know it, ever played it?

Never saw that episode and believe it or not I've never played Marco Polo either!

Marco Polo travelled to China in the 14th century. Ever been to China yourself? What about the rest of Asia?

I've never been to China but I did go to Japan and South Korea last summer. It was one of the best experiences of my life. Went digging, chilled out with my friends out there and the women are beautiful!

How much do you owe Ayatollah?

Ayatollah's early beat CD's and the MC's he was fucking with, definitely inspired me to really hustle my music and move out to NY permanently. When I first moved to NY my beats were okay at best and I was always scared to play Tola my shit. Now we run into each other at sessions and when I play shit he's like; ?You got that heat son!?. It's good to get co-signed by a peer you respect! We met through my boy Lou who lives in Queens and introduced us. I really don't see Tola much besides at the odd sessions but I know I just saw him on Myspace!

You?ve worked at The Cutting Room studios, what do you remember of that?

Working at The Cutting Room were some of the best times I've had in NY. I worked with Talib Kweli, Mos Def, De La Soul and Pharoah too name a few. A lot of Rawkus stuff before they fell apart towards the end. Benzino and his whole click used to lock out months while I was working there. De La was the coolest to work with, no ego's and very cool guys.

Could you tell us some more about the Chas project?

Chas is a side-project I do with my good friend Dylan Margerum who is the main staff engineer at The Cutting Room. When I worked at The Cutting Room, we used to be up real late working and when there was a downtime we would make beats and mesh our music together for fun. He comes from an indie rock background and I'm a hip-hop head, so I would program drums and chop up shit he played on the guitar then he'd sing over it. It was all for fun but then people started telling us they loved it. We're now trying to get our shit together and put something out to get a buzz going. Peep us in my top-8 on Myspace.

So who's The Minority Rule?

The Minority Rule is like an unofficial crew from the Toronto area. It's myself, Shylow, DJ Linx, DJ 730, DJ Taktiks, Beatwyze, 9th Uno, Expertise and Beatsmith. These are all cats I run with in Toronto and they are all friends of mine.

Any material coming out soon?

I doubt a full crew album will pop up anytime soon because we don't really see each other that much and rep the crew like an actual musical entity but we are all involved in each other's music one way or another. I got a few joints I produced for Shylow's album. I also produce for 9th & Expertise. DJ Linx and DJ Taktiks both have dope ass cuts on my new solo album as well.

Actually, where do you dwell at now?

I'm in Brooklyn right now. I go to Toronto a lot though.

Your latest production is on the Bootcamp Click album, how did you get with them?

I met Buckshot at The Beat Society Show we did out in L.A. Then the day after the show, Buckshot came through to DJ Rhettmatic's crib to hear beats. I passed him my beat CD and got his math. When I came back to BK we stayed in touch and BCC ended up recording five joints over my beats. Three of them made the final cut of ?The Last Stand? dropping July 18th. Buckshot is also on my solo album.

You've also had the chance to work with people such as Kool G Rap, Masta Ace, OC, Skoob of Das EFX...some of the greatest in hip-hop, how many Canadians can say that! How hard did you hustle for these collabos?

I hustled my ass off to get shit happening for myself in NY, it's really tough to get people to take you serious at first when you have no credits so you need to be your own hype man until artists see your talent.

Pumpkinhead's 'Orange Moon Over Brooklyn...' was one of our favourite albums of 2005. How did you get to produce the entire album of an underground veteran?

First off, I'm glad you liked the album! I met Pumpkinhead way back at a show he did in NY and gave him a beat CD which he lost and thank God, cause the beats I first gave him were wack! Then we ran into each other again through Block McCloud of Brooklyn Academy. By that time I had given him a stash of joints that he loved and we started working towards this album at The Cutting Room on off-time. I'm happy on how it came out.

So are you ever going to rhyme on a Pumpkinhead album instead of talkin on the hidden outro?

(Laughs out loud) Maybe I'll rhyme one day as joke or on a skit but never for real.

Anymore collabo's with The Plague members coming up?

The Plague rapped on the only non-Marco Polo beat on ?Orange Moon?. Moss produced the joint they rocked. No collabo's are in the works as of right now.

Despite the already big names you worked with, which big names do you wanna work with in the future?

Elzhi, Freddie Foxxx, Jay-Z, Nas...

You work with people from the East to the West. With how much of the artists you worked with did you share the studio and with whom did you do it through the Internet?

I hate not being involved in my own music. I always try and be there for the recording and try do the mixing myself. I don't trust outside engineers, most of the time they can't make my beats sound like I do. I've been lucky enough to be in the studio for a lot of sessions like Masta Ace, Kool G Rap, Skoob.

How did you get with Rasco and Pockets Linted?

I mailed Rasco a beat CD and he called me back. That then sparked his interest in putting out my first instrumental album ?Canned goods? and also me producing his single ?What Happened To The Game?.

What's your production set-up?

MPC 2000 XL, Technics 1200, cheap mixer, lots of records.

Would you buy an SP, or is MPC the best sound for Marco Polo?

I would buy an SP 12 or SP 1200 in a second but I will probably always sequence and program with the MPC because it?s so easy. I just got an Akai S-950 but haven't touched it yet, my man Filthy Rich gave it to me.

Do you buy a lot of records for sampling or do you have quite a big archive
to rely on?


I buy a lot of records but I wouldn't say I have a big archive to rely on at all. I buy a lot of junk records that most producers wouldn't waste their time on so that leads to many useless records in my collection.

What about rap records?

I buy CD's more than rap vinyl so I can rip them to my I-Pod easier.

Which were the last few albums you bought?

I recently bought Dilla's ?Donuts?, Slum Village ?Fantastic Vol. 1?, Self Scientific ?Change?, Ghostface?s ?Fishscale?...

What was your first rap record?

Rap Traxxx Vol 2. It was a compilation. It had LL Cool J ?I'm That Type of Guy? and Slick Rick?s ?Children's story? on it.

You ever drove a Volkswagen Polo?

I'm sure I have but I can?t remember when and where.

Please comment on the following names:

The Simpsons

The best cartoon of all time!

Supastition

Supa is a MC who in my humble opinion has yet to really explode on the scene like he should be. I'm doing my part to help him make angrier music this year so expect some future MP/Supa collabo's. He's on my solo record as well. He is one of my favourite MC's. Ill voice, energy and flow!

Wordsworth

Words never disappoints on a track. You might hear Words over a weak beat or on a collabo track with cats you never heard of but you know once Word?s verses drop it?s dope! He is the highlight of too many tracks in your collection! Also on my solo album (smiles).

Maestro Fresh Wes

?Drop the Needle?, ?Let Your Backbone Slide?... ?Symphony in Effect?. Worked with Showbiz from DITC.... Classic classic classic Canadian hip-hop legend!

Michie Mee

Held it down for Canada also. Legendary MC from Toronto. Was signed to an American label way back in the day!

Kardinal Offishal

The best MC out of Canada right now, which doesn't even really begin to explain the talents of this man. Kardi is the real deal on a worldwide artist scale, not just the best Canadian rapper. Calling someone ?a dope Canadian MC? is wack. You either a dope MC or not. Don't matter where you from.

What more can we expect from you in the future?

I got joints with Sadat X, EMC (Masta Ace, Wordsworth, Punchline, Strick), Special Teamz (Ed O.G., Jaysaun, Slaine), Heltah Skeltah and others...

But I want to hype up my own solo album which is close to being wrapped up. I'm not going to name everyone on the album but expect appearances from Kool G. Rap, Masta Ace, Buckshot & Rocky Marciano (The UN) to name a few. My label situation has yet to be worked out but labels have been getting at me so I'm confident the project will find the right home and hopefully the world will hear it by late 2006 or early 2007.

Shout-outs?

Peace to anyone not settling for the bullshit hip-hop being forced down your throat by the major music companies. Support real artists and producers, so we can keep making dope shit for y'all!

 

POSTED 06|01|2006
conducted by cpf

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