Image courtesy of Trent Clark

The Latest Rap Hall of Fame Inductee: Polo G

Chicago-born rapper Polo G diversifies his style in the release of his third album, Hall of  Fame, incorporating a star-studded list of featured artists on the tracks. The rap star emerged in  2019 with his debut album release, Die a Legend, and bursted into prominence out of the gate (Gage 2020). In his newest studio album Hall of Fame, Polo G expands on the unique piano beats that characterize his work and creates variety throughout with several hit collaborations. The album branches away from the majority of current rap through its reliance on the piano instead of the standard heavy dependence on percussion. Hall of Fame elaborates on Polo G’s rise to fame, and  refuses to neglect his tragic roots; this most recent album makes him 3/3 and counting.

At only 21 years old, Polo G is taking the game by storm. It’s almost hard to believe he has reached this level of success in less than 3 years (Skeleton 2021). Polo G’s second album, THE  GOAT, was released in 2020 and solidified his standing as one of the top artists in the rap game. He has carved out a niche for himself; his uniqueness is established through his genuine, harrowing lyrics and the prominence of piano on the majority of his beats. Throughout his work and notably in Hall of Fame, Polo G reflects on his traumatic experiences growing up in a gang. However,  unlike the lion’s share of other current rappers, he isn’t bragging about it. Polo G expresses regret while looking back, furnishing heartfelt lyrics on the friends he’s lost. His talent and originality are what differentiates Polo G from others in the rap scene today. While crafting his latest studio album, the Chicago native capitalized on the opportunity to diversify his work by collaborating with other high-profile artists. Hall of Fame includes features from Young Thug, Pop Smoke, DaBaby, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, and others. Fortunately, Polo G didn’t commit the same mistake that too many other artists make when incorporating features– allowing it to significantly sway their own groove. On his third studio album, Polo G masterfully maintains his unparalleled rap style.

Polo G kicks off the album with the song, “Painting Pictures,” which listeners were given a preview of in a promotion for the upcoming album months before Hall of Fame was released (Genius 2021). Polo G introduces the album on “Painting Pictures” in his usual fluid, graceful style rapping about the friends that he lost on his way to stardom. The animated, resounding piano beat working in rhythm with his lyrics exemplifies how he’s bringing the use of keyboards and pianos into mainstream rap.  Melodic piano beats that dominate nearly every track on his latest album fuse smooth rap content with aspects of classical music.  Polo G doesn’t need the loud, percussive trap beats to make a hit song.

Comparisons have been made between Polo G and the late legendary rapper Tupac Shakur.  This comparison’s weight isn’t lost on Polo G; he acknowledges the association on “Rap Star,”  rhyming: “They say I’m Pac rebirth, Never put out a weak verse.” “Rap Star” is perhaps the most exceptional track Hall of Fame—and is Polo G’s first number 1 hit on the charts (Skeleton 2021).

The song is a certified slam-dunk, pairing an innovative rhythm with grieving but invigorating lyrics executed masterfully by Polo G. “Rap Star” creates an electrifying mood while Polo G’s ascension is recounted through sobering lyrics.

“Clueless” is yet another instant classic on the Hall of Fame roster. The song features the late trap-star Pop Smoke, and it packs a Muhammad Ali-level punch. It’s reminiscent of Pop  Smoke’s hit single “Dior,” utilizing heavy percussive beats in a quick alternating pattern to produce an energetic, intense trap song. It’s a tune that’ll get the party going, so to speak. While much of this album strays away from the typical trap sound with heavy drums and snares, the occasional trap song on an album is fun and serves as a switch in mood toward the conclusion of Hall of Fame. One of the impressive elements to Polo G’s third studio release is that it’s not repetitive; the artists featured enhance the album’s diversity. If you were to pick a few songs as a  taste test for the album, “Clueless” and “Rapstar” are decidedly must-hear samplers.

As a Chicagoan myself, I can’t help but appreciate the hometown references that Polo G  includes throughout Hall of Fame. References to local spots in the Windy City, Lake Shore Drive,  Michigan Ave, and downtown Chicago will always carry a certain appeal for me; but Polo G’s latest release carries a broader appeal than that.

Discussing Hall of Fame, Polo G affirms: “I’ve got something that somebody from any type or facet of life could pull from on this project. If you don’t like the standard pain, melodic  rap, I’ve got something that’s going to turn you up, too.” (Skeleton 2021). In the songs “Painting  Pictures,” “Rapstar,” and “No Return,” Polo G recites his lyrics with such soul to the extent that it makes the feeling evoked by his music impossible. The considerable incorporation of the piano in  Polo G’s work is something we rarely see in modern day rap, as are his sincere lyrics. Following  THE GOAT was no minor feat. Polo G has released his third incredible album in just as many  years; Hall of Fame diversifies Polo G’s novel style with a stacked list of features. If you haven’t heard it yet, give this rising rap star’s latest album a listen.

by Zach Nichol