A-F-R-O first caught the attention of hip-hop fans the world over when R.A. The Rugged Man stood alongside him on a YouTube video as the Los Angeles MC dropped freestyles at a terrific pace. The ‘A-F-R-O Polo’ EP finds him teaming up with revered producer Marco Polo for a flawless collection of boom bap tracks. The young MC is one of the most hotly tipped lyricists to build momentum over the past few years, and collaborating with such a respected producer on your first proper release is definitely a good sign.
The EP kicks off with ‘Long Time Coming’, which features scratched from Shylow of First Division. A-F-R-O displays percussive syllables delivered with an uptempo, energetic feel and Marco Polo’s crisp boom bap production is authentic and enjoyable; if you’re still of the opinion that the classic sound has died, you need to clean your ears out and check this project out. With multisyllabics and internal rhymes galore on ‘Nightmare on Fro Street’, A-F-R-O is one of the most talented spitters of recent memory, and it’s great to see a young lyricist representing for the complexity and depth of years gone by. The funky bassline of ‘Sunshine & Flowers’ is great, and the rising MC drops with power, and his precise flow is captivating. The hook on this track is impressive too, and it points to A-F-R-O’s songwriting prowess, something that many up and coming rappers overlook.
He recruits Eamon for ‘Use These Blues’, and the tasteful production and mature vocal performances from both MC and singer result in a track that exhumes that instant-classic feel. The gritty, intense beat on ‘Lair Of The Black Worm’ is a guaranteed head-nodder, and A-F-R-O displays charisma and confidence with his expertly executed lyrics. The EP closes out on ‘Joe Jackson’, which is another cut that showcases A-F-R-O’s flair and Marco’s raw production; the chemistry between these two is impeccable, and hopefully this is just the start of their musical partnership.
Any hip-hop head worth their salt needs to check this one; the rhymes are intelligent and complex, the flows are smooth and effortlessly delivered, and the beats knock for the duration of the project. A-F-R-O and Marco Polo have once again proved that hip-hop is in no way, shape or form doomed for over-saturation and poor quality, not when there’s releases like this to listen to.
By Sam Bennett