iHipHop Interview- Torae & Marco Polo: Best Of Both Worlds…

Written by Serge Fleury

Saturday, May 30th, 2009 at 1:19 am
Views: 1970


marco-1Back in 1988, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince released their second album titled He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper—a simple concept that helped fuel Hip-Hop in its beginning stages.

Although DJ Jazzy Jeff’s old partner in crime has become an über megastar with a $20 million per movie salary, the ideals of having one producer throughout an entire project along with one MC still lives on to this day.

Right now, carrying on the torch is Brooklyn MC Torae along with Brooklyn transplant by way of Canada Marco Polo.

Together, they’ve combined their talents and love for real Hip-Hop to create Double Barrel [Click for review], which will be released through everyone’s favorite authentic record label, Duck Down Records.

So as the “rapper and DJ/producer” honor the past, one thing is for sure: They’re definitely the future, and that future is happening right now…

iHipHop.com: How did you guys first hook up for the Double Barrel [Click for review] project?

Torae: Well, before there were ever talks of doing an album, we had through my man Masta Ace… He was doing a skit for the eMC album and he called us in to play different characters for the skit, and that’s how he initially first met…

Then just the both of us being from Brooklyn and just being in that small circle of people that were making moves… I got invited down to Marco’s spot, and we kicked it for his album Port Authority

He asked me if I would contribute a joint, and we worked on a couple records for that… Then he was actually going on tour, and he asked me if I wanted to roll, then I was going on tour to Europe and I asked him if he wanted to roll…

So over that period we established a friendship and a bond, and we wanted to continue to make music together, so we decided to make a project…

iHipHop.com: What can the rest of the world expect to hear from you guys’ record?

Marco Polo: People can expect to hear some straight East Coast authentic Hip-Hop, and not to sound corny but that’s what it is… The music speaks for itself, and its just good music, good Hip-Hop, and it is really East Coast-sounding…

If you’re a fan of DJ Premier beats, EPMD, DJ Scratch, and Pete Rock, it’s just that real gritty sh*t… If you need to get your energy up, if your driving a long distance, working out, or need a little kick, this album is like a cup of coffee times a thousand…

Torae: Or if you’re selling crack, this is a great album to sell crack to…

iHipHop.com: [Laughing]… Does any one of you have a favorite song from it?

Torae: As the days progress, and the more I listen to the project, and this might seem like a generic answer but it’s the truth; everyday I find a reason to like a new record even more…

Today I listened to ‘Get It,last week it was ‘Hold Up,and the week before that it was ‘But Wait. Every record evokes a different emotion from me, and I love them all as if they were all my children…

iHipHop.com: Same thing goes for you Marco [Polo]?

Marco Polo: Yeah, I definitely agree… It depends on my mood, the day, and the time… For today, my joint is ‘Smoke,that’s what I like today…

marco-2iHipHop.com: Staying on the subject of the songs; how was the creative process when you two were putting everything together? Any compromise involved?

Marco Polo: We were definitely on the same page, and anytime you put two strong-minded individuals in the studio, there isn’t really going to be arguments, but definitely some challenges…

We’re both opinionated dudes, so there were times were I thought strongly about a song going a certain way, and Torae might have disagreed, but the bottom line is at the end of the day we’re both open to listening…

So we did have situations like that, but it was worth it at the end of the day… Overall there weren’t any serious issues; we just worked the hardest we could to make the best album possible…

Torae: No doubt…

iHipHop.com: So when an issue came up, you guys just kissed and made up at the end? [Laughs]

Torae: [Laughing] There was no kissing… There was no Birdman and Weezy business going on… Hip-Hop is real metro sexual right now, so we have to be clear on that… [Laughs]

Obviously like Marco [Polo] said, you have two grown-ass men in the studio, and we both want to come with different thoughts and different ideas… But at the end of the day, I know Marco’s top priority is making the best album, and he knows so is mine… It was only minor things, never anything big…

duckdown-logo-wpiHipHop.com: How did Duck Down come into play?

Marco Polo: We both have existing relationships with a lot of people over at Duck Down… Me personally, I have a history with them just from producing on a lot of their prior projects like Boot Camp’s Last Stand, their Casualties Of War record, Heltah Skeltah’s record, and I’m proud to say that I’ve been on 6-7 albums production-wise on their roster…

So they already had that faith in me musically to bring that certain type of music that they mess with…

I’ve always been in touch with them, just from what I’m doing, and I was actually supposed to sign with them for Port Authority, which was my first producer record, so we’ve always been in talks and kept in touch…

Then when this album was in the works, I definitely let them know… I just think that the album that me and Torae made fits the criteria of a Duck Down release, and they’ve definitely made moves to expand over the years, and I think that’s kept them alive…

Everything just kind of came into place… It just made sense on so many levels…

iHipHop.com: Were there also other labels that you were shopping the project around to as well before Duck Down?

Torae: Like Marco [Polo] said, we had relationships, and I have relationships with a lot of people on the roster as well… So when they decided that they wanted to expand outside of Boot Camp [Clik] artists, it was always an option…

We took a bunch of meetings, and we sat down with a bunch of indies, and a couple of majors as well, and it just made the most sense to roll with Duck Down

It was for a number of reasons, and obviously those relationships are very important… So once we put everything down on the table and weighed it out, Duck Down came out the victor…

iHipHop.com: Is Double Barrel [Click for review] going to lead to more collaborative efforts between you two?

Marco Polo: Definitely… Regardless of what happens with this album, Torae and me will always be working on stuff… In the future, Torae is going to have a solo project that you can expect me to be producing on, and vice versa when I do projects…

We had fun making this record, so it’s not looked at as a task or a job, we do it because we naturally like to make good music, and make good Hip-Hop… So you can definitely expect some more collaborations…

iHipHop.com: With such an oversaturated market, meaning that it seems like there are more rappers than fans, do you think it will be difficult getting people to latch onto your movement?

Torae: I think you have to come from a fan’s perspective in order to be an artist… Obviously I’m a recording artist now, but I’m a fan first, and being an artist doesn’t stop me from being a fan… I still go to the record stores, and cop albums…

If you feel the music, then you should go out and support it… I pride myself on going to Fat Beats every few weeks and copping a couple of joints, because that’s the way you keep the business thriving…

That’s how you allow these artists that you love so much to continue to go into the studio and make joints, by going out and supporting it…

If you’re a regular dude with a 9 to 5, blue collar/white collar, wife beater [wearing], just go out there and support it if you f*ck with the music… It shouldn’t matter if there are more people aspiring to be artists than there are “quote-un-quote” fans, because you can be both…

marco-3iHipHop.com: I just want to go back a little to how Marco [Polo] said earlier about the project being East Coast-based… Obviously your album is a Hip-Hop album in the true sense of the word, but aren’t you worried about it being TOO Hip-Hop for today’s market?

Marco Polo: It’s definitely TOO Hip-Hop for what’s going on right now, and we knew that when we were making it—we knew that we were taking a risk… It’s actually crazy to be talking about taking a risk by making a Hip-Hop album…

Torae: Yeah, that’s like an oxymoron… How the f*ck can it be TOO Hip-Hop?! [Laughing]

Marco Polo: Yeah, that whole idea is just f*cking ridiculous, you know what I’m saying? But you’re right…

Right now what we did is definitely not popular, but the bottom line is I’ve always stuck to my guns, and made the music that I wanted to hear, and the music that I was a fan of…

So we decided to make an album that we wanted to hear, and something that we weren’t getting enough of… That was our goal and we understand that it can miserably be slept on, but it was a sacrifice that we were willing to make…

Torae: I mean; you can’t listen to “skinny jean rap” all day everyday… There’s no variety out there, and there’s no diversity… There’s no balance, and it’s just a bunch of one-sidedness… As for me, I was a kid that could listen to a Kid ‘n Play song, and then turn around and listen to an N.W.A. song…

So this is a direct contrast to all that “scarf rap,” and “yellow jeans rap.” This is straight “hoodie rap,” straight “skullies and 40 Below” music…

iHipHop.com: Would it bother you guys if the public just pegged you as another underground duo coming out with an album before actually letting your music speak for itself?

Torae: I think that with the general perception, people are always going to attach you to something that they’re more familiar with, until they get familiar with you… So if people want to put us in a box, sh*t might happen…

As an artist, I would love to think that everyone is open-minded, and that they speak for themselves, but obviously a lot of people are going to say, “Oh this is just that.” So for those people it’s their lost… Because not only are they going to miss out on dope music, they’re going to miss out on a lot of sh*t just from being close-minded…

Don’t ever let somebody make a decision for that you can make for yourself… Listen to the album, and if you like it, f*ck with it… If you don’t, then that’s fine too… A lot of people miss out on things in this world just from being close-minded and not being opened to trying something new…


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