Marco Polo - PA2: The Director's Cut (Review)

Marco Polo - PA2: The Director's Cut

"PA2: The Director's Cut" is the latest album from Canadian hip-hop producer Marco Polo. The album features guest appearances from Organized Konfusion, Large Professor, Inspectah Deck, O.C., Tragedy Khadafi, A.G. and others and is fully produced by Marco Polo himself. It was released on November 12, 2013 via Soulspazm Records.

1) 3-O-Clock (featuring Organized Konfusion) - The album begins with a quick skit from Michael Rapaport before the first beat actually kicks in. The instrumental on this song is ill, with some strings, horns and a haunting vocal sample on the chorus as well as interspersed throughout the verses. Pharoahe Monch absolutely bodies his verse while fellow Organized Konfusion member Prince Po does the same. It's great to hear these two guys rhyming together again, especially over a banging instrumental like this one. This shit is fire.

2) Savages (featuring Slaine, Celph Titled and Ill Bill) - This song has a harder instrumental than the first, featuring some haunting synths and backing guitars over head-nodding drums. The intensity of the beat sounds like something all three of these emcees would usually rap over, so its no real surprise they all come correct on here and sound right at home over the instrumental. I've never really considered myself a big fan of Ill Bill on the mic, but he really impressed me on here. Nice.

3) Earrings Off (featuring Rah Digga) - Rah Digga flexes her mic skills and spits some threatening rhymes about putting people in their place if they test her over another harder instrumental with some strings, stomping drums and deep bass. The beat is dope and Digga does her thing. Nice.

4) Can’t Get Enough (featuring Big Twins, Nature and F.T.) - This song has a powerful instrumental that has traces of that classic QB sound in it. The beat is uneasy, with a murky sample layered over hard-ass drums, and all three emcees sound pretty good over it. I'm not really familiar with F.T., but Big Twins is one of my favorite Queensbridge emcees and Nature has always been underrated in my opinion. Dope.

5) Astonishing (featuring Large Professor, Inspectah Deck, O.C. and Tragedy Khadafi) - Damn. Look at that line-up. Inspectah Deck, O.C. and Tragedy Khadafi are three of my favorite emcees of all time and Large Professor is close to being one (I think he is a better producer than emcee, but dude can still bring it and is a hip-hop legend). As expected, all four of them absolutely murder the beat, which has some fierce energy and closes out with some ill scratching. This. Shit. Is. Absolute. Fire.

6) 6 Trill (featuring Last Emperor) - Last Emperor spits darts over a cinematic instrumental full of sweeping strings and hard-ass drums. I haven't heard a verse from Last Emperor in years, so it's really great to see that he has his own solo track on here. The beat is blazing and Last Emperor rips it, giving me flashbacks of his classic "Secret Wars" superhero rap battle track. It's a shame he doesn't have more material. Anyways, this album is crazy so far. Another banger.

7) West Coast Love (featuring MC Eiht and King Tee) - Marco Polo delivers an instrumental with a strong West Coast vibe to it, incorporating some funky guitars, slapping drums, a subtle vocal sample and high-pitched synths to keep with the regional feel. Lyrically Compton vets MC Eiht and King Tee both are on point with their verses, as expected, kicking some straight up West Coast gangsta shit. This is ill.

8) Wrong Girl (featuring Reach and Reggie B.) - This song has another dope instrumental that has a lighter feel than many of the others on the album so far. The beat is smooth and Reach sounds pretty good over it, rapping about hooking up with the "wrong girl" while Reggie B provides the chorus. This is good, but definitely not a standout track for me after the string of bangers preceding it.

9) Drunken Sleuth (featuring Invincible) - Invincible shows up and kicks some vivid rhymes from the point of view of a "detective" that is investigating the gentrification of a community. The concept is dope and the beat is nice, incorporating a guitar, synths and horns over live sounding drums. Not bad.

10) Intermission (featuring Michael Rapaport) - Skit

11) Emergency Man (featuring Malcolm and Martin) - The instrumental on this song has some keyboards and ambient noises layered over boom-bap drums. The beat is very ill and both Malcolm and Martin come correct, but this song is also not a standout track for me. I'm not sure why, but it just seems to be missing some element of excitement or something else that many of the other songs have possessed. Oh well.

12) Strange Brew (featuring Gangrene (Alchemist and Oh No)) - Gangrene come through and spit a few bars over an upbeat instrumental with some spaced-out synths, a low-key vocal sample and prominent bass. The beat is dope, both emcees are on point and the scratching during the chorus ties it all together. Alchemist has been impressing me on the mic lately as well. Very nice.

13) What They Say (featuring Kardinal Offishall, Lil Fame of M.O.P. and Styles P) - Kardinal Offishall (who I have not heard a verse from in many years), Lil Fame and Styles P all spit fiiyyaahhh over a hardcore instrumental reminiscent of most of M.O.P's discography. I'm really feelin' the way Marco Polo is showing off his many styles of production and building full songs around the featured emcees on each track. This shit is full of energy and is one of the many highlights of the album for me.

14) Parental Discretion (featuring Breeze Brewin of The Juggaknots) - This song has a laid-back piano-based instrumental that compliments the thoughtful mood of the song nicely. Lyrically Breeze Brewin is on point, rapping about the trials and tribulations of being a parent and trying to raise your children the right way. The beat is dope and the lyrics have substance and a positive message. Nice.

15) Underdogs (featuring Supastition and Shylow (of First Division)) - North Carolina emcee Supastition and Shylow collaborate on this track which features both emcees spitting about how they are both underdogs in the rap industry and about how they shouldn't be overlooked just because they are not well known. The lyrics are nice and the beat should get your head nodding, but this song doesn't really standout for me in the overall scope of the project. Still, not bad.

16) R U Gonna Eat That (featuring The Doppelgangaz) - This track has a darker instrumental that is similar in feel to many of the self-produced beats that The Doppelgangaz come with on their own albums. The beat is dope and both Matter Ov Fact and EP sound great over it, spitting their usual humorous and wild lyrics in their unique style. Very nice.

17) Sucka Free (featuring Blaq Poet, Hannibal Stax and Panchi of NYGz) - This song also has a slightly ominous boom-bap instrumental, but this time with a more cinematic feel than the previous song. Lyrically all three emcees are on point, kicking some of their habitual violent street stories in rugged flows. This song would have fit nicely on the collabo album that Marco Polo and Hannibal Stax dropped earlier in the year. Nice.

18) G.U.R.U. (featuring Talib Kweli and DJ Premier) - Now THIS is dope. The past few songs have all been pretty good, but none have been mind blowing...until now. Marco Polo crafts a beautiful instrumental for Talib Kweli to kick some heartfelt rhymes in tribute to the late Guru over. The beat is banging and Talib rips it. This shit is absolute fire and is easily one of the best songs on the album.

19) Glory (Finish Hard) (featuring Masta Ace, A.G., Posdnuos of De La Soul and Dion Jenkins) - The final song on the album features a crazy lineup of underground veteran emcees who all have very similar deliveries and vocal tones. Each of them spits fire, but does so in the smooth and laid-back flows that each has mastered throughout their long careers. As far as the beat goes, the shit is dope, with a smooth horn/vocal sample and boom-bap drums. The only thing holding this song back a little is the chorus, which I'm not feelin' as much as the beat and rhymes. Still, this track is fire.

I'm going to rate the album

4.25 / 5

because its got some real bangers on it. The beats are blazing throughout, with many adopting the same sound and feel of the instrumentals that the featured emcees usually spit over. Marco Polo rarely disappoints on the beats and he continues that trend on here, crafting boom-bap instrumentals with a more modern twist. Lyrically the album is just as strong, with mostly all of the guests spitting fire verses that sound right at home over the beats. There are a few songs on here that are not quite as strong as the others, but even those are far from terrible. It's hard to outdo tracks featuring lineups like Large Pro, O.C., Tragedy Khadafi and Rebel INS, but I can honestly say there is not a single wack song on the entire album.


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