Beats are life. Marco “Polo” Bruno, by way of Toronto and now making his home in Brooklyn, lives by this mantra. In a few short years the T. Dot native has gone from green producer with a new MPC 2000XL to a highly sought after purveyor of boom-bap, laying down tracks for the likes of Masta Ace, Boot Camp Clik and Sadat X. Now the 27 year-old production wunderkind is set to release his own debut album, Port Authority on Soulspazm / Rawkus.
For those of you who haven’t heard the name, Marco Polo, what do you do?
Marco Polo: I produce Hip Hop, dig for records and drink a lot of coffee.
I heard you’re a ‘hip hop junkie’, do you think that’s accurate?
Marco Polo: Yeah that’s accurate but my stash is low these days. Not enough good product coming out. Hopefully my new album will help in that department.
What can you tell me about your debut LP ‘Port Authority’?
Marco Polo: If you feel like you’ve out grown Hip Hop in any way or it isn’t what it used to sound like then my album is for you. Port Authority, to some, looks like a 90’s revival rap record but it’s not at all. It’s good music that Hip Hop heads need right now. I really tried to contribute something back to the East Coast style of rap I grew up on but from the perspective of an outsider (being from Toronto). For this album I ignored everything that is considered popular and got really dusty with it.
Why that title?
Marco Polo: Marco Polo, the explorer / traveller, of course. You can say he was an authoritative figure back in his era. Also, when I first moved to NY, I took a bus from Toronto and ended up at the Port Authority bus terminal in Manhattan. That whole area is grimey and its where a lot of out of towners end up if you’re travelling to NY. This album represents my journey to NY and what happened when I got there.
Rawkus Records is quite an established label in hip hop, how did you get involved with them?
Marco Polo: I got involved with them through Soulspazm Records who I’m actually signed to. Soulspazm / Rawkus have partnered up to put out my record and Rawkus is very excited about my album. They’ve been doing a lot of great things to promote it and hopefully I can add another great record to there stellar catalogue.
Who have you been working with?
Marco Polo: Recently I’ve been working with Torae, Skyzoo, Copywrite and Grand Daddy I.U. on my upcoming mixtape entitled "Newport Authority" mixed by Mick Boogie. It drops early April and is a little teaser before the actual album drops May 15th.
If you had the opportunity, who would you like to work with?
Marco Polo: Nas, Ghostface, M.O.P, Pharoah Monch, Elzhi, Freddie Foxxx… many more as well.
What makes you different to other producers?
Marco Polo: I think I separate myself from other produces by being very involved in the tracks I produce. I’m not afraid to be honest with the MC’s and artists I work with whether they are established or unknown. The final product has to be the best it can. I’m also aware of the importance of mixing and recording properly as well. All these factors come into play when you work with me on one song or an album.
How much do you charge per beat on average?
Marco Polo: Really depends on the situation. As of right now lets just say I’m reasonable but Myspace MC’s that doesn’t mean I sell beats for $300 either!
What is your opinion of the state of hip hop?
Marco Polo: I don’t think its dead by any means. I’m going to quote my homie DJ Revolution who said "let anything that’s dying in Hip Hop die". I agree with him. So while the wackness is dying off, the rest of us can keep it moving inthe studio making good shit.
Do you sometimes feel you’re discriminated just because you’re white?
Marco Polo: Nope. Haven’t had that problem.
What influences your production?
Marco Polo: All types of music influence me. Life influences me. DJ Premier, Stevie Wonder, The Beatles… anything really.
What’s next for Marco Polo?
Marco Polo: More production on various projects but I’m about to start a whole new album with just one MC. That MC is TBA as of right now. So stay tuned.