Masta Ace & Marco Polo Share Richmond Hill, Their Latest Collaborative Album
Out Now on All Platforms and Vinyl via Fat Beats
The Celebrated Rapper/Producer Duo Welcome Guest Spots From Inspectah Deck, Blu, Coast Contra, Che Noir, and More
The Follow-Up to the Acclaimed 2018 Album A Breukelen Story, Richmond Hill Draws Inspiration From Marco Polo’s Checkered Childhood, as Masta Ace Tackles the Issues of Today With Clarity and Panache Over Warm and Soulful Instrumentals
“Rap legend Masta Ace is well over 30 years in the hip-hop game, but he’s still finding new wells of inspiration to tap into. The latest is the production of Canadian hip-hop beat maker Marco Polo” – UPROXX
Brooklyn legends and rap game mainstays Masta Ace & Marco Polo share their new album Richmond Hill, a full-length collaboration about how hip-hop can change a life. Following up their acclaimed 2018 album A Bruekelen Story, the 18-track (including skits) Richmond Hill is a cinematic journey that explores how the past echoes through the present. Welcoming guest appearances from notable names from all eras of rap history, including Inspectah Deck, Coast Contra, Blu, Che Noir, Speech of Arrested Development, Masta Ace’s longtime collaborators Stricklin and Wordsworth, and many more, Richmond Hill is available to stream on all digital platforms and to purchase on vinyl via Fat Beats.
Produced in full by Marco Polo, the new album continues where A Bruekelen Story left off: while the prequel focused on Marco Polo’s life in the big city and his attempts to get into the rap game, Richmond Hill is inspired by Marco’s childhood in the titular neighborhood, a small town in Ontario, just outside of Toronto. Between interstitials about Marco’s passion for hip-hop and cartoons, his struggle with addiction, and the support of his parents, Marco Polo and Masta Ace tackle the issues of the day head-on with clarity, the rapper using his decades-worth of rapping experience to slice through the producer’s warm soul samples and crisp percussion.
“Ace and I are great partners because we each know our lane, but we’re not afraid to give each other feedback,” says Marco Polo. “I don’t always know which beats Ace is gonna like, but I know he’ll let me do my thing once he lays down his verse–if I need to fix a snare or boost a hi-hat. We’re both tinkerers, constantly remaking the songs over and over again until it gets to a state we’re both happy with.”
A veteran emcee who has been schooling fools since his days in The Juice Crew over three decades ago, Masta Ace’s pen remains as sharp as ever, as he methodically comments on how the rap game has changed. Ace effortlessly spars with the Coast Contra crew in the invigorating “Certified,” tiptoeing atop Marco’s dissonant jazz attack. “Hero” assembles an Avengers-like duo of Masta Ace and Inspectah Deck, who trade comic book metaphors over an instrumental that could have been a theme song from one of Marco’s childhood favorite cartoons. On “Below The Clouds,” Marco Polo nods to Blu‘s illustrious history, as Blu and Ace elucidate their dreams over a dreamily familiar sample.. Dueling atop Marco’s noirish flute-driven instrumental, Ace and guest Che Noir tackle the root of all evil, and how it creates an insatiable pit inside that can only be filled by greed. Ace takes a critical look at the exploitative market for new and retro sneakers on “Jordan Theory,” and delivers some belated holiday cheer on the jaunty “All I Want.”
“I don’t decide on topics ahead of time,” explains Masta Ace. “The music dictates kind of what the song is going to be about. I usually ride with it, listen to it, extensively, and then somewhere in the process of those listens, the topic just appears and I just know ‘Okay, this is what this song is about.’ And then I write it accordingly. Often, I’m writing lyrics on my drives from New Jersey into the City. Most of the time Marco doesn’t know what the song is even about until I go in the booth and actually start recording verses. He’s actually in the dark completely. He’s like ‘Oh okay, let’s see what he’s going to do with this one.’ I think I surprise him most of the time.”
Home to the single, “Life Music” ft. Speech (of Arrested Development), Stricklin, and E Smitty, which dropped late in 2023 and arrived with a music video directed by Parris Stewart, Richmond Hill is another essential chapter in the career of the decorated rapper and Juno Award nominated producer.
Stream Richmond Hill & buy it on Vinyl: https://fatbeats.lnk.to/richmond-hill
Buy Richmond Hill on vinyl: https://www.fatbeats.com/products/masta-ace-marco-polo-richmond-hill
Watch “Life Music” ft. Stricklin, Speech & E Smitty: https://youtu.be/wF-B-yYKTp8
Richmond Hill tracklist:
- December 26th (skit)
- Brooklyn Heights
- Certified ft. Coast Contra
- Cartunes (skit)
- Hero ft. Inspectah Deck
- Life Music ft. Stricklin, E Smitty & Speech (Arrested Development)
- Below The Clouds ft. Blu
- St. Roberts (skit)
- Heat Of The Moment ft. Pav Bundy
- Jordan Theory
- Money Problems ft. Che Noir
- Scarborough (skit)
- Outside In ft. C-Red & E Smitty
- Plant Based
- December 25th (skit)
- All I Want ft. Wordsworth
Richmond Hill is the second collaborative album by the unlikely compadres of Marco Polo and Masta Ace, who each cut unique paths through the music industry to wind up where they are today. First emerging as a member of the legendary Juice Crew, Masta Ace is one of rap’s most gifted lyricists, releasing acclaimed albums in multiple decades, including 1995’s Sittin On Chrome, 2001’s Disposable Arts, and 2004’s A Long Hot Summer. The Brownsville, Brooklyn native has collaborated with everyone in the game, from MF DOOM to Eminem to Biz Markie, and many more. Ace has kept active for decades, performing a Tiny Desk Concert for NPR in 2018 and writing a hip-hop musical, currently in the read-through stage and aiming for a debut performance in Early 2024.
Since moving to Brooklyn from Toronto in the early 2000s, Marco Polo has established himself as one of the most sought-after producers in the New York underground scene. He has produced for some of the most legendary names in hip-hop, including Scarface, Rakim, Pharaohe Monch, Talib Kweli, Kool G Rap, and many more. He released his debut LP Port Authority in 2007, earning his first of two Juno Award nominations. Marco’s production is a fixture of film and television–most notably, he composed the theme music for the Brooklyn Nets, played during each of their local broadcasts.
Photo credit: @mrwattson
Richmond Hill: https://fatbeats.lnk.to/richmond-hill
“Life Music” ft. Speech, Stricklin & E. Smitty: https://soulspazm.ffm.to/life-music
Buy tickets for the “Richmond Hill Tour”: http://mastaace.com/events