I recently reviewed Marco Polo and Torae's album Double Barrel over at Exclaim! and did a short interview with the duo. Click the blurb for the full article.
Marco Polo and Torae are touting Double Barrel as a return to the gritty hip-hop coming from New York in the mid-'90s, embodied by groups like Gang Starr, Onyx and the Boot Camp Clik. It's fitting that Double Barrel is being released by Duck Down Records, home of Black Moon, Smif-n-Wessun and Heltah Skeltah. The duo work closely from the blueprint the aforementioned groups originated, with expertly scratched choruses, hard drums and forceful rhyming from MC Torae. NYC-by-way-of-T-Dot producer Marco Polo provides 14 perfectly dusty boom-bap instrumentals, which Torae rips to pieces. Those introduced to the Coney Island-bred rapper through his 2008 mixtape, Daily Conversation, will be surprised by his newly aggressive delivery. When Torae's rhymes equal the intensity of Polo's tracks, the results are hard to dispute. The swirling strings and clipped horns on "But Wait" are matched perfectly with a Sticky Fingaz vocal sample and Torae's potent rhyming. "Smoke" is a blistering posse cut with exemplary tough talk from Lil' Fame from M.O.P. and Rock from Heltah Skeltah, and "Hold Up" has an insistent spy movie theme groove with verses from Sean Price and Masta Ace. Torae delivers his best performance over the ominous, creeping thump of "Lifetime," backed by DJ Revolution's jaw-dropping scratches. Tougher than a pair of old Timbs, Double Barrel is '90s revivalism done right.