“Stay down til’ you come up, I’ve been sticking to that theory,’’ Polo G spits on his single ‘RAPSTAR’. That aforementioned theory is rooted in patience, which the Chicago rapper possesses plenty. He has committed to the Soundcloud grind, released two studio albums, and thrived on many features to reach this high plateau that has been Polo’s 2021. ‘RAPSTAR’ reigned atop the Billboard Top 100 for two consecutive weeks, is already certified platinum and led to his newly released third album Hall Of Fame, which pinpoints the highest peak so far in the mountain range of his potential.
Hall Of Fame doubles as Polo’s bid to enlist himself in a legendary class, but also a showcase of all his qualities that have propelled him past prospect status. It contains the ambition of his early Soundcloud releases like 2018’s ‘Gang with Me’, which interpolated 50 Cent’s ‘Many Men Wish Death)’ amidst the sounds of Chicago drill, showcasing his hunger and drive to shine throughout adversity. Melodically, the project is an evolution of from first two studio albums, Die a Legend and The GOAT, as he continues to finesse his vocal chops and use them as a tool in the sharpness of his songwriting. By pairing the developing qualities that lead him to stardom, Hall of Fame becomes his most diverse album yet, polymerising hard-hitting rap anthems, 808-blasting drill, and ear-catching sing-a-long tunes into a cohesive testament to his talent.
Throughout the versatility, Polo’s knack for storytelling. Using the earworm melodies and loud, arena-ready sounds of modern rap, he performs monologues about his life, from the victory laps of his growing success to the reflections of adversity he faced to get here and still faces today. The album kicks off with ‘Painting Pictures’, a song that pays homage to friends he’s lost while reflecting on the struggles of his old life. Other tracks like ‘Toxic’ cover his strife in a relationship while firing back at critics and signifying the longevity he expects in the music game. His open-book approach and vulnerability make the music easy to relate to and normalises honesty and the importance of expression in a scene that can be typically machismo. It’s a trait of Polo that has existed since early songs like ‘Finer Things’ and are at their most transparent on Hall Of Fame.
The album’s title is not only fitting for the new level of artistry Polo has reached but the artists he’s now positioned beside. Hall of Fame has a star-studded guest list, with Polo writing in an Instagram caption, “I usually don’t tap in for features, but this time around I’m like ‘fuck it and got some hard-ass records with some of my favourite artists and future hall of farmers in my book.” Tracks like ‘Go Part 1’ and ‘No Return’ feature G Herbo and Lil Durk, who are respectively pioneers in the Chicago drill movement Polo blossomed from. He celebrates the rapid rise of New York drill on ‘Clueless’, which features Fivio Foreign and the late, great Pop Smoke. He even goes toe-to-toe with veterans like Nicki Minaj on ‘For The Love Of New York’ and Lil Wayne on ‘GANG GANG’. Other fellow rising artists like Rod Wave, The Kid LAROI, DaBaby, and Scorey, who is signed to Polo’s Only Dreamers Achieve record label, make appearances as well, making this album serve as a commemoration of everything great in the hip-hop scene today.
So, while many would deem it too early to place Polo G into Hall Of Fame conversations, how can you deny it? Three studio albums, multiple platinum records, and a rapidly developing artistry beg to differ. His knack for versatility sees his skills vibrant on a variety of sounds, as he can trudge the incline of any instrumental without breaking a sweat. His open-book lyricism and vivid storytelling paint the picture of his struggles from his childhood in the Marshall Field Garden apartments in Chicago to the introspection he experiences on his journey to stardom, allowing us consumers to gleam into his vulnerable side. He’s also going toe to toe with solidified and inevitable hall of famers, creating music with the likes of Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Lil Durk, and more. He has stayed down until the come up, and as he crafts his Hall Of Fame class, he is inducted into the history books as 2021’s rap star.