Since the summer of 2020, Polo G has been one of the hottest names in all of mainstream hip hop. Due to the success of his sophomore album THE GOAT, an array of features that followed, and his chart-topping single “RAPSTAR,” the Chicago native’s been on a run that it seems no one can stop. Just last Friday, the Chicago rapper released his third studio album, Hall of Fame. With the stakes at an all-time high, will Polo live up to the hype and deliver his magnum opus?
Just as every other current mainstream release has a bloated tracklist, HoF is no exception. Unlike many of the other records that have been dropping in recent months, these twenty tracks are threaded together with passion, heart, and excitement. Granted, there are times where this excitement ends up making an absolute mess, like on the overly edited and oddly dramatic “Heart of a Giant” with Rod Wave, but for the most part, this tamed energy becomes the LP’s defining quality. Along with his heart, Polo’s versatility makes this album hands down one of the most exciting and unpredictable on the market. Whether that’s the ability for him to dive into an array of topics ranging from murder and loss on “Painting Pictures” to him running through his typical bag of braggadocios bars on “Boom,” Polo proves he can get deeper than almost any of his contemporaries while still being able to turn up with the best of them. On the vocal side, we see the 22-year-old use his raw unaltered voice while also going as far to test the more melodic and harmonious side of the spectrum on cuts like “Black Hearted’ and “Broken Guitars”. While these experiments don’t always come out perfect, the attempt to do something different adds so much character to Polo and the project overall.
Throughout these 20 tracks, half of them have featured guests. While in modern age trap, when a record is this star-studded, you can almost assume they’re here for the sake of the cash grab but, Polo manages to masterfully mesh with nearly all of these names. From the chemistry between him and The Kid Laroi on “No Return” to the crossover between fellow Chicago titan G Herbo on “Go Part 1”, these features don’t just prove Polo is on his way to becoming one of the mainstreams ultimate collaborators but that his versatility is better than ever. Even names like the often clowned DaBaby delivers one of his best guest spots ever on the oddly smooth yet hard-hitting “Party Lyfe”. Other acts including Roddy Rich and Young Thug further assimilate into Polo’s melting pot with their well-delivered fun features, and Polo shows his ability to step into New York’s drill scene with Pop Smoke and Fivio Foreign on the skull smashing “Clueless”. Out of all these collabs, teaming up with Lil Wayne for the spacey “GANG GANG” was definitely the standout. Being in the presence of such an all-time great, Polo brings his all, and to no one’s surprise, Weezy ends up stealing the show.
While the chemistry between Polo and his guests was nearly impeccable, the record’s peak moments came from his solo tracks. Through cuts like “Zooted Freestyle” and “Epidemic,” we see Polo at his most vulnerable and are truly able to understand him from a personal standpoint. He has a pain-riddled background, and he’s struggling to live with his past traumas and the reality that others in his situation won’t be as lucky as he is. Out of these striking moments of excellence, the LP’s outro “Bloody Canvas” was certainly the emotional climax with its chilling story about gang violence. Through a malicious delivery and frightful vocals, Polo narrates various murders that happened around him and the repercussions on all parties involved. When it comes to new school rappers, I’ve never heard any track this emotionally bearing, and it leaves listeners with some critical food for thought.
Walking away from Hall of Fame, and I’m honestly very impressed. The character, versatility, and exciting moments ranging from fun to terrifying are qualities I haven’t seen come from a mainstream hip-hop record in a long time. Now, this album certainly does have its flaws and could have been a lot shorter, but there’s so much right with it that the criticisms are pretty minimal. Going forward, Polo G has proved he has all the intangibles to be a key piece in the future of mainstream hip hop, and I’m sure this will only become more apparent in time.
- Polo G’s versatility is off the charts
- Going track to track is exciting and unpredictable
- Great features/collaborations
- Deep cuts are truly heart-wrenching
- Layout of the album is pretty messy
- Pacing feels off at times
- The tracklist could have been cut down to 10-12 songs
Written By: Mr. Fantastic