Marco Polo

The Stupendous Adventures of Marco Polo

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Since signing with the prominent East Coast label Duck Down, Canadian-born beatsmith Marco Polo has enjoyed a productive tenure. After putting out two quality MC/producer collabo LPs (one with Coney Island MC Torae and one with Boot Camp stalwart Ruste Juxx), MP presents an album for which he alone holds top billing, The Stupendous Adventures of Marco Polo. Recruiting a varied mix of underground hip-hop mainstays, relative newcomers, and a handful of fellow Canadian artists, as well as a couple of veteran rappers who haven't been heard from in years, Polo comes up big with his impressive second full-length effort in 2010. As usual, the production betrays the producer's proclivity for the true-school era with plenty of samples from mid-'90s classics, scratched-up hooks, and tight drum arrangements. Hardcore hip-hop heads will find plenty to their liking here -- from the bass-heavy "The Radar Remix" with Large Professor (which even manages to bang harder than the extraordinary original) and Torae's infectious military-themed head-nodder "Combat Drills" to the straightforward "How I Get Down" remix, which sees Skoob of Das EFX making a strong return to the mike after a long absence. Similarly, former Cold Chillin' battle rapper Grand Daddy I.U. puts in a commendable performance over Marco's high-energy track, which utilizes a distinct Beach Boys sample on "The Veteran." Still, the album's highlights come courtesy of Toronto's underground rap scene. Listeners unfamiliar with the T-dot will be pleasantly surprised by the mike skills displayed by lyricists like Arcee, Exile, Promise, and Surreal.

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