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Marco Polo & Torae
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Marco Polo & Torae teamed up to make their debut collabo album “Double Barrel” in 2009.
When it comes to beats and rhymes, Canadian producer Marco Polo and Brooklyn MC Torae don’t play, just check the résumé. On his 2007 critically acclaimed album Port Authority, Polo recruited a who’s who of MC’s like Kool G Rap and Kardinal Offishall to ride over his hard-hitting, boom-bap instrumentals. Torae, on the other hand, has certified his rep as one of the game’s illest lyricists in a similar fashion with remarkable wordplay on his highly touted 2008 street album Daily Conversation. So, in the spirit of great hip-hop duos, the producer and the MC signed with Duck Down Records (home of Buckshot, 9th Wonder, Black Moon, B-Real of Cypress Hill, KRS-ONE, Sean Price, Heltah Skeltah, DJ Revolution, Smif N Wessun, Ruste Juxx, Boot Camp Clik and Kidz in the Hall) in 2009 to release their collaborative album Double Barrel.
“He’s bringing the hardest production that he can bring, I’m bringing the hardest rhymes I can bring; together its like a double barrel blast,” says Torae of the album’s persistent theme. The two first hooked up when Marco tapped the MC to guest on his Mick Boogie-helmed mixtape The New Port Authority in 2007. In turn, Marco went on to produce “Casualty” on Tor’s Daily Conversation. “I think we just had a connection in the studio,” says Polo, “We wanted to make an album that we wanted to hear with banging beats and aggressive rhymes.”
Sonically Double Barell pays homage to New York’s mid-‘90’s rap scene, when artists like Gangstarr and Wu-Tang Clan reigned supreme. The album’s first single “Party Crashers” is a definite standout, harkening back to that era with its chest thumping percussion and rock solid rhymes. So rather then try to fit in with hip-hop’s pop set, Marco and Torae chose the unconventional route. “I think the sound of the album is not the most popular or trendy, but we’re going to crash the party,” says Tor, “ We’re coming in with this sound and we’re coming in doing what we want to do.”
Songs like the dramatic “But Wait” and the free associative “Word Play” display Tor’s forward thinking conceptuality, while the rock-infused “Danger” stands as one of Marco’s finest productions to date. Overall the album is chock-full of the street-influenced rap that fans have come to expect from the two hip-hop upstarts.
More than superior rhymes and dynamic beats, Double Barrel is a testament to the ever-important creative relationship between rapper and beat maker. “You want to have a good sense of chemistry with a person and Marco and I have good chemistry,” says Torae. “You’re going to have a consistency in the sound,” says Marco of the benefits of the one MC, one producer dynamic.
Throughout the album pays homage to the genre of rap that influenced the duo and even features critically acclaimed heavyweights like M.O.P., Masta Ace and Sean Price to help balance out the track list. Still while honoring the past, Marco and Torae’s main goal is ultimately to further their art. “We’re not trying to take it back,” says Marco we just wanted to make an album that knocks.”
With the boom bap in tow, the pair aim to prove that behind all the flashy videos and high priced toys, hip-hop always boils down to two things: beats and rhymes. Double Barrel more than accomplishes the goal, and Torae sums up the collaboration perfectly when he spits, “He makes violent beats, I’m from the violent streets/That Double Barrel sound, that’s where violence meets.”
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