Masta Ace stands as one of rap’s great anomalies. The Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York artist emerged in the late 1980s, delivering next-level rhymes as part of Marley Marl’s Juice Crew with Big Daddy Kane, Biz Markie, Kool G. Rap and others. After his 1990 debut album, he then released in 1993 a sobering treatise on gangster rap and its impact on America with his SlaughtaHouse project before melding an East Coast sensibility with the South and West Coast’s affinity for car culture with 1995’s revolutionary, forward-thinking Sittin’ On Chrome album.

Yet it was Masta Ace’s next series of musical moves that truly cemented his status as one of rap’s iconic acts. In 2001, Ace released Disposable Arts, an exceptional look at rap’s evolution, exploitation and appropriation. His subsequent projects – 2004’s A Long Hot Summer, 2012’s MA_DOOM: Son of Yvonne and collaborative projects with eMC, Ed O.G. and others – provided Masta Ace a new platform to tour the world and become a rapper whose catalog is appreciated by different generations of fans for dramatically different reasons.

“My longevity can only be attributed to the music I have dropped since 2001,” Masta Ace says. “Those subsequent albums have garnered a whole new legion of fans for me. Typically your fan base grows old with you. My fan base has also grown younger with me. Having young fans show up at sound check to get an autograph because they are too young to get into the club for the show says it all.”This steadfast fan support set the stage for Masta Ace’s forthcoming The Falling Season LP. Due in the first quarter of 2016, the album is narrated by Fats Belvedere, his A Long Hot Summer sidekick.“I was inspired to again reach back to my past and tell more of my story,” Masta Ace explains of The Falling Season. “This album takes you back to my high school days. A Long Hot Summer was more fictional-based, but The Falling Season is more autobiographical. It pulls heavily from actual events that took place during those years.” It was an event in 2000, though, that helped redirect Masta Ace’s personal life. That year, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), though he did not reveal to the public that he had the disease until 2013. Living with MS led Ace to have a new dedication to health and fitness, something that impacted every aspect of his life, notably his music. “I have simply become more introspective as I have grown older,” Masta Ace reveals. “The realities of life and our mortality on this earth have caused me to look within and pull from those emotions.” This new-found perspective led Masta Ace to collaborate with Runtastic as a story running voice actor, with Lowland Kings on a skateboard design due this winter and with Ous shoe company on a signature shoe due in 2016. “My non-music ventures have provided me with a clear exit strategy from the game,” Masta Ace says. “My ideas and interests span beyond music and I look forward to showcasing the other creations in the near future.”

Now, with a career that stretches back to the 1980s and shows no signs of slowing, Masta Ace continues pushing art in general – and music specifically – forward. “I think I have contributed music that has challenged the status quo in hip-hop,” he says. “I have given heartfelt music that moves listeners emotionally, music that does more than make you wanna do something. I made you feel something and think about something.”

Masterful, indeed


Marco Bruno, better known as Marco Polo, is a Canadian hip hop producer. Born in Toronto on December 26, 1979, he moved to New York City in the early 2000s to pursue a career in hip hop production, and has since become one of the most sought-after underground producers on the US East Coast. He has Italian origins; In fact, his parents emigrated respectively from Naples and from Calabria.

When he came to New York City, Bruno worked as a sound engineer in several recording studios. As a result, he met up with legendary Brooklyn MC Masta Ace, who was looking for beats for his 2004 LP A Long Hot Summer at the time. Although Ace could not pay him at first, he used one of the beats Bruno gave him for the song “Do It Man” (featuring Big Noyd). Production for Sadat X’s Black October album and various Boot Camp Clik projects followed a few years later. His debut album, Port Authority, was released through Rawkus Records and featured guest raps from Masta Ace, Kool G Rap, Buckshot, Wordsworth, O.C., Kardinal Offishall, Large Professor and Sadat X. On June 2, 2009, a collaboration album with Torae was released, entitled Double Barrel.

On June 29, 2010, Marco Polo released The Stupendous Adventures of Marco Polo on Duck Down Records. The album featured guest raps from an assortment of acts including the Large Professor, Torae, Royce Da 5’9″ and others.

In October 2012, he released the For My People EP with Italian rappers Bassi Maestro and Ghemon.

Marco Polo’s production revolves around his use of samples, and his style is somewhat comparable to that of Pete Rock and DJ Premier, the latter of which he names as his greatest influence. To give a more authentic effect to his production, he will individually sample drum sounds (such as a hi-hat) and arrange them to create his own “breaks”. He often uses bass to enhance melodies he has sampled. He has been known to use outro beats to segue into the next song.