INTERVIEW: Torae & Marco Polo Pt. 1

Tonight, at the last minute, I ran a few blocks up to Club Five with the homie Nyadenya. Five was hosting the Beatdown Producer Showcase, with appearances from Kev Brown, Best Kept Secret, and Marco Polo. After thinking we weren't getting it in, NYC emcee Torae meets us at the door and shows us upstairs. On my left, on my right; dope emcees and producers. After prepping the merch table, Tor and I sit down for a brief interview, which quickly turned into another interview...

jben.ok: Alright, man. Let's get right into it. You've been in the game for quite a long time. Is it purely my fault I just found out about you last year, or have you actually been hiding under a rock?
Torae: Last year was me coming out of the cocoon, you know what I'm saying, it was my birth. After a lot of years of grinding and hard work it finally materialized about last year, so you and the rest of the world you just got up on me.

J: Well the record is Daily Conversation, it's been out for a little while now. Just to clarify, is it an album or a mixtape?
T: Yes (laughs)

J: How did you choose Fat Beats as a distributor and are you planning on looking for a bigger deal?
T: Well, right now I'm really loving Fat Beats as a distributor. I decided to go with them after we put out the 12 inch and I saw how the business was and I saw they was straight up guys. I mean, like with the indie game pretty much everybody's gonna do the same thing as far as getting your record out there to the certain degree.So you gotta find people you got good relationships with, people that's personable and people you can sit down and talk to and get answers, so that's why I decided to go with Fat Beats. So right now, Fat Beats is good as a distributor, but of course we're always looking to get better.

J: Alright, with guests like Chaundon and 9th Wonder on Daily Conversation, are you at all affiliated with Justus League? If so, might we be hearing you on any Little Brother records anytime soon?
T: Yeah, yeah, J League is definitely the fam, shout out to the whole League. I was actually just out with Scudda and Dho last weekend, and Pooh and Tay too. Yeah, we working on something. I know Pooh got a record coming out, so you gonna hear me on his album. And you know, I got a Little Brother trick up my sleeve too. Justus League is the whole fam. Khrysis did like three joints on my album, and those are my people. I'm on 9th's album, that's love right there.

J: A lot of big collaborations. You've got the JL/LB connection, and sitting right next to me is Marco Polo spinning tonight. Let's talk about collabs real quick, how did you get together with Marco?
T: Marco and I actually met in the studio when we came into work on the eMC album. We met doing the skit; we just had a good kinship, a good connection. And right here, is my man Marco right here. (Marco Polo sits down next to Tor, suggests we move upstairs because the soundcheck is so damn loud.) This is my brother, my white brother. The end result is gonna be a crazy album for the people.

J: You touched on eMC a little bit. eMC dropped a crazy album with The Show...
T: Yeah, The Show is dope. I was there for a lot of the recording of the record and a lot of writing. You know, eMC is our big brothers, we about to go out to Europe with those brothers for a month. Make sure y'all go pick up The Show. Support that real hip hop shit, support Masta Ace. He's a legend and still relevant to this day. Of course, Punch and Word and Strick. Make sure y'all go support good hip hop music, word up.

J: Alright, well Skyzoo and DJ Premier show up on a few joints off the record. How'd you get together with Primo?
T: Preem just being a good DJ, all real DJs keep their ears to the street and Preem had his ears to the streets, he knew what was bubbling in the underground, which was Skyzoo and myself. He reached out to both of us and expressed he wanted to work on the record, of course we jumped on the opportunity to work on the record with Primo. Initially it was gonna be two separate records, but due to time constraints we had to mix it up and to do it together. The end result is "Click" and "Get It Done," I couldn't ask for anything better.

J: And one more artist, Tanya Morgan, they just dropped the Tanya Morgan Is A Rap Group Mixtape. What's it like working with TM, independent artists coming up big?
T: I mean, I respect their grind. They out there, they make sure they get their tours booked, they make sure they get their records out there, so I definitely respect the grind of TM. Von Pea is ill, he's got one of the illest voices to me in hip hop. I ain't even gonna talk about the lyrics because lyrically all of them are stupid. I can't wait till they get on a bigger platform so more people know about them. Yeah, definitely shout out to TM, those are my dudes.

J: Alright, well we're a DC radio show but we hear about NYC hip hop all the time and what it is and what it isn't. Are you bringing NY back or just bringing it a new perspective?
T: I don't know what bringing it back means. All I'm doing is putting out music that I feel. I grew up, listening to a certain type of music, a certain sound, and it invoked a certain emotion out of me. What I'm trying to do is pull that emotion out of the listening today.

J: Alright, we're gonna wrap it up here. Daily Conversation is in stores now and on iTunes. If you had one song on the album that you're most proud of on the record, which one would it be?
T: Wow, that's a great question, I don't think I've ever been asked that. All of the songs touch me in so many different ways. I'ma have to go with my top 3: "Get It Done" was the record that opened up a lot of eyes and ears. "Click," just because that's one of my all time favorites. I love the swing on that, I love the horns on that. I think me and Sky approached it crazily, as well as Preem. And "Tayler Made" would probably be the third one and that's just because it's dedicated to my daughter. I love her to death, shout out to Tay Tay, Nicholas what up!

J: So what's next for Torae?
T: Next is Marco Polo, we're in the lab right now cooking up something marvelous. We're about 60-70 percent done with the LP, titled Double Barrel. And that's it, that's what gonna be next....

Part 2 is coming later tonight with Torae interviewing Marco Polo.

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