What do you get when you mix a hit-making producer and an energetic, lyrically superior emcee? You get something so powerful it can only be shot from a Double Barrel—which happens to be the name of Marco Polo and Torae’s debut collaboration.
In a chance meeting in underground hero Masta Ace’s studio, the pair met, vibed and created a nostalgic sound that brings hip-hop heads back to a time when rap truly made a difference. There are times when fate is working overtime and Marco Polo and Torae’s introduction should have earned fate time and a half. The two worked together, for a common goal—giving music lovers an option outside of autotunes, skinny jeans and egos. With the recent release (June 2nd) of Double Barrel, Marco Polo and Torae want to remind us of what hip-hop was and how it still can be as real, unadulterated and hearty as it once was.
By Danielle Young
Everything between you musically is pretty organic. Is that how the process was for recording Double Barrel?
Marco Polo: Definitely. It’s just all about being open minded. There [are] no egos here. If I’m doing something whack on my end with the beat, he’ll let me know and vice versa. [We’re] ultimately working towards making the best music we can make. Just because you record something doesn’t mean it has to get used.
So you guys have a lot of unused songs?
Torae: Yeah, I think the first three songs we did didn’t make the album, but we just got into the groove of recording together and we offered each other constructive criticism. You just check your egos at the studio door. Marco is a great producer; that’s why I’m working with him. He thinks I’m a good emcee, so that’s why he’s in there working with me. We both understand that there is a mutual respect. If he says, “Yo, Tor, try this, this and that.” I’m going to try it because I know that he’s working with me because he thinks I’m good. He’s not doing my any favors and vice versa. His suggestions are only for me to be better; it’s not a detriment. When I pass on a beat, it’s not because the beat is whack. It’s just because I don’t think I can bring it to the next level. It just has to work and make sense together. That’s why we make the type of music that we make. I think that’s why people feel our music the way they feel it because we make it for all the right reasons.
Now that you guys have Double Barrel under your belt, are you guys going to be doing more things together?
Torae: I think we’ve got the basic foundation, which is the respect and a genuine love for the music we make. I think once you have that foundation, you can always build on it. I think a lot of people tend to do things for the wrong reason—because it’s a good look or a buzz builder. Whereas, me and Marco—that’s the homie—so anytime you have that foundation, you have the potential to keep making music. Of course if there is a demand and we feel like we can go back into the lab and make something that makes sense and make good timeless, classic music, then we’re going to do it. We’re going back because we feel we have something to contribute and we both want to go in and make music.
You guys draw a lot of your inspiration from more of an old school sound like Wu Tang, Kool G Rap, etc…are you trying to bring that back or is this just for nostalgia’s sake?
Torae: I draw my creativity off of my inspiration and as an artist that grew up listening to hip hop music in the nineties—that’s everything that inspired me to want to be an artist—that made me want to create music is from artists from that golden era. I’m not trying to bring it back; I don’t want to knock 10 years off my life. I do want to evoke that same emotion in people that I felt when I heard that music. It inspired me. It made me love it. It made me embrace it, adore it and embody everything I was as a person. Coming up, it defined me. I want to create music that I feel like will define someone in this generation. There are kids that are 12 and 13 right now that will hear Double Barrel and it will change their perspective on a lot of things. At the end of the day, that’s all I really want. I’m not trying to bring it back; just making and creating music from a standpoint of, “This is how I was inspired. This is what it inspired me to make, let me see if I can continue that on.”
As far as music is concerned now, hip-hop has taken on more experimentation. Why do you think that is?
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