Earlier this week we brought you part one of our interview with producer Marco Polo. Today KN brings you part two of our conversation with the Canadian beatsmith, who recently dropped his new album PA2: The Director’s Cut. This time around Marco discusses how he landed the gig of producing the Brooklyn Nets’ theme song, why Guru’s death hit him hard, the difficulty of working with some many emcees on one LP and some interview horror stories. Check out what Marco had to say and make sure you pick up Port Authority 2 [purchase] if you haven’t already!
Ethan: Now you say you’re really busy. You have other business ventures going on right?
Marco: Well we’re always working on other stuff besides working on rap albums, I did the theme song for the Brooklyn Nets last year and it runs this season. I’ve been doing songs for movies. I was in Kick Ass 2. Yeah man I’m working on a lot of licensing stuff. My sound is always evolving and changing so I like to learn new shit. So yeah, it’s been a busy year. I need a vacation.
Ethan: So how did the Brooklyn Nets thing come along?
Marco: My boy Brian Hamilton, who does a lot of licensing stuff, hollered at me to do the theme song and I did it and they picked me and it’s fucking awesome.
Ethan: So that’s played at all the Nets’ games?
Marco: Yeah it plays on the TV. It plays on the YES Network, which exclusively plays the Brooklyn Nets. Not at the actual games in the stadium, it plays through every broadcast on the YES Network.
Ethan: I was reading about the “G.U.R.U.” song with Talib and Premo and I read that you made the beat the day he died?
Marco: Yeah I did. I was going through a lot that day. That was earth-shattering news to me you know? To lose him… Gang Starr was epic in my upbringing in Hip Hop.
I felt like I lost my best friend even though I never met him. I met him once, but we weren’t peoples like that. When you’re a fan of someone’s music, you feel like you know them. So when Guru passed I was fucking… yeah that day he passed I was going through some stuff and I made that beat.
Ethan: So when you make an album do you search out emcees for certain beats or do you shop out beats and look to see who wants to get on?
Marco: Yeah I pick specific beats for specific artists. I never just say “pick one.” It’s always planned.
Ethan: Was there anyone you wanted for the album that you couldn’t get?
Marco: Yeah I mean there was a lot of people. I would have liked Ghostface for the record, I would have liked Billy Danze, I would have liked Action Bronson to be on it but… there is lots of people man. I would have loved to have Joell Ortiz, Royce Da 5’9”, the Slaughterhouse group, but sure there is time in the future to try and make this music.
Ethan: So Newport Authority 2 was something new for you. Why did you decide to put out a free mixtape?
Marco: Well actually before Port Authority One came out I put out Newport Authority. The difference was Newport Authority 2 was an actual album instead of a mixtape. So it was fully mixed and mastered. I had so much material for recording PA 2 that I wanted people to hear it and it wouldn’t necessarily fit onto this album, so I wanted to put it out. I had songs with Rakim and fucking Big Daddy Kane, so I wanted the world to hear it.
Ethan: What are your plans after Port Authority 2?
Marco: To take a vacation. I’m going to Thailand.
Ethan: That sounds awesome.
Marco: I’m going to Thailand or I’m going to Argentina. One of those two places. I’m going to take a little vacation, collect my thoughts and get back to work.
Ethan: Are you planning to tour this album?
Marco: Absolutely. In the wintertime, I’ll probably tour Europe and hopefully Australia. Pick an emcee to come with me or do some MPC live sets. I’m not sure but I’m definitely touring Europe and Australia and whoever will have me.
Ethan: Is it hard to tour an album like this with so many emcees?
Marco: Yeah it is very hard because you can’t bring 40 people on the road. So usually what I do is I pick one artist that I have a body of work with and we go out and perform.
Ethan: Is it hard to put an album like this together? Are people on time? I imagine logistically speaking it must be a nightmare.
Marco: Yeah it’s the worst. It’s the biggest pain in the ass eve, but it’s worth it. But yeah it’s fucking… you’re on everybody’s schedule and you got to be patient because people are showing me love, but we all work on the barter system. But at the end of the day, I’m grateful. But yeah, it’s very time consuming in making an album like this especially when you are working with an indie budget.
Ethan: There are tons of interviews with you. What is the worst question you’ve ever been asked in an interview?
Marco: “How long have you been rapping for?’”
Ethan: Do you get a lot where people have never listened to your music?
Marco: Yeah all the time. It’s funny, I’d like to address that. I think as a young up-and-coming journalist in the rap game, I don’t know… I have no problem if you work for a publication and you’re handed an assignment to interview someone you’ve never heard. But your job is to research someone. If you don’t have time to do that and you call up an artist and you’re like ‘Fuck. I have no idea about anything about them,” just say that. Say that off the jump. Nothing is worse than pretending to skirt by and you actually just ask dumb questions and we’re like “what the fuck?” You know what I’m saying.
I would have rather have had the person who asked me how long I had been rapping to rather have just said, “Hey I was just handed this gig to interview you and I apologize, but I have no fucking idea who you are. I’ve never heard you’re music.” I would respect that more than having you try to lie through it and asking retarded questions and wasting my time. Just be honest. If you’re interviewing an artist and you’re not familiar with their entire catalogue, just tell them. I think they will respect you more than lying your way through it and just sounding dumb. [That's] for all you young journalists out there.
Ethan: Do you ever read reviews of your albums or what’s written about you online?
Marco: I read a lot of it, yeah. I probably shouldn’t, but I do.
Ethan: It’s hard not to.
Marco: Yeah I’m good though. I’m used to it. Luckily it’s mostly positive when it comes to me, but some people have nothing better to do. But I have thick skin. If I listened to some of these internet trolls, I would have jumped off a bridge. To me, it’s all pure entertainment. The thing is, I’m more concerned when they aren’t talking about me. Either they are taking the time to aid me or they are logging on to hate me. They are taking fucking five minutes of their life to log in and type, so I’ve inspired them whether good or bad. I love it. It’s all entertainment to me.
Ethan: Alright well I wish you good luck. The album’s great and I hope to hear more.
Marco: Yeah man and shouts to Kevin Nottingham. You guys always show love. Peace to everyone over there. All those posts, I appreciate everyone.