Interview: Marco Polo [Producer Series 2.0]
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Date Stamp: October 2, 2007
Thick: What Toronto emcees did you work with before you went to New York?
Marco Polo: I didn't really work with any Toronto emcees...actually that's not true, I worked with my man Shylow. We did a couple joints. We had a 12" on Fat Beats. But really I moved to New York right away and laid the foundation, and started working with cats out here before any of that.
T: When did you move to New York and how'd you get into the game?
MP: I went to school in Toronto, to an engineering school, and when I finished there they promised me a job and all this stuff, and it never really happened. So, I kinda just moved to New York. First I stayed in Queens for a couple months, then I got an internship at the Cutting Room in Manhattan. That kinda set it all off. Started doin' all the scrub work there, getting coffee for people, answering phones, setting up mics, and then I got an actual paying job there. That lead into meeting some of the artists that came through for sessions and giving out my beat CD. At first it was a lil' tough 'cause no-one would hit you back or I couldn't get any feedback. But I just kept doing it and then finally Masta Ace came in for a Beatnut session, I gave him a beat CD, and well, he picked one of the beats.
T: Yeah, Ace always seems open to new producers. Where did it go from there?
MP: Definitely getting that co-sign from Masta Ace helped open more doors for me. Then, I was able to tell people, I just did a joint for Masta Ace. Automatically, people are a bit more receptive when you work with someone they respect. I continued to do work, I did that full album with Pumpkinhead called Orange Moon Over Brooklyn. Started doing the Beat Society shows, who are the same people that run Soul Spazm Records. So, we put out the Pumpkinhead album, and that helped a little bit with a lil' underground buzz. It didn't really get out there like it should have just 'cause of indie labels not having the money to promote stuff and the distribution not being right. But it definitely put me in the right direction. Through doing the Beat Society shows, I did a show in LA and I connected with Buckshot. I gave him a beat CD and like three months later, I didn't even hear anything from him, he called me and was like, we (Boot Camp) did four records over your tracks. One of them ended up being the single called Yeah, that came out on The Last Stand. That definitely was a career defining moment for me as a producer.
T: How do you feel now that Soul Spazm is coming through Rawkus, and that Rawkus is back?
MP: Me and Jim at Soul Spazm ever since they picked me to do Beat Society and Pumpkinhead, so we were always building when I was recording my new album about doing it on Soul Spazm. Then, he signed a deal with Rawkus, a joint venture (where) Rawkus participate in distribution and marketing. Now, they love the project and they're kinda reppin' it like a Rawkus release...Soul Spazm is not even getting mentioned, so I'm trying to rep them as much as I can. Rawkus has a crazy history. Any Hip-Hop fan from the last ten years knows at least one record from their catalogue, so it's definitely humbling to be a part of that. Be on the label that I once bought so many records from.
T: You've worked with a lot of people but who would you still like to work with? And tell us about the Mick Boogie mixtape.
MP: There's a lot of people I haven't connected with like Freddie Foxxx, or Elhzi from Slum Village, Ghostface, Pharohe (Monch)...those are some dudes I definitely want to get beats to and do songs with. The mixtape is called Newport Authority and there's five or six brand new songs I recorded, including songs with Skyzoo, Grand Daddy IU, Copywrite, Edo G and Special Teamz. Then, I got joints from the album, like the single, and then I got songs on there I produced in the past, like all the Boot Camp stuff, Sadat X, Masta Ace, Pumpkinhead, Block McCloud...just to let cats know what I've been doing, what I'm doing, and what's about to come.