Photo: Daniel Prakopcyk
Polo G Talks ‘Hall Of Fame,’ Fatherhood And His Plan To Be Legendary
Polo G is forging his own path to greatness, one goal at a time. The 22-year-old Chicago native started off 2021 with a major milestone: his first No. 1 record. “RAPSTAR,” his guitar-laced, flex-filled single, debuted at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 in April.
“I had put that on the list of things that I need to accomplish this year and s***, the year [had] just started, and I already scratched that off,” he tells GRAMMY.com.
But Polo’s goals loom larger than a hit record. He’s after longevity and he makes it known on his newly released album, Hall of Fame. It may seem like a lofty title for a rapper’s third studio album (or not because after all Polo did name his sophomore LP The Goat), but Polo can back up his confident claims. After breaking out in 2019 with the now quadruple-platinum single “Pop Out” featuring Lil Tjay, Polo secured his rising status with the release of his debut album, Die a Legend. By the following year, Polo moved his family to Los Angeles and released his chart hit, sophomore effort The Goat, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 Chart.
Now, Hall of Fame sees Polo share the stage with some of rap’s biggest players. The 20-track offering features hip-hop icons like Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj; fellow buzzing artists like DaBaby, Roddy Ricch and Rod Wave; a posthumous verse from the late Pop Smoke; and several other collabs. More importantly, though, Polo maintains his magnetism on the album. Rather than being overshadowed by his star-studded list of collaborators, Polo shines alone–a further testament to his rising star power.
Before releasing Hall of Fame, Polo caught up with GRAMMY.com about his new album, how his almost-2-year-old son inspires him to work harder and what it was like collaborating with his heroes.
You got your first No. 1 hit in April with “RAPSTAR.” Congratulations!
Thank you. Yeah, I had put that on the list of things that I need to accomplish this year and s***, the year [had] just started, and I already scratched that off.
You manifested it! What else is on your list?
My other goals on that list are just to still be here a long time from now.
Your son was featured in the “RAPSTAR” video and you rap about him and fatherhood a lot throughout Hall of Fame. How did being a new dad influence the making of the album and your music overall?
My drive, my work ethic and how hard I go. I’m always thinking about my son.
Speaking about building a legacy, I saw that you tweeted about admiring JAY-Z’s lyricism recently. Is he someone whose career you aspire to?
Definitely. Him being the first billionaire in hip-hop, I know everybody aspires to have that much money. So, I definitely look up to him and rock with him for his business mind.
You worked with a lot of great artists for this album–Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Roddy Ricch. Was there anyone, in particular, you were really excited to collaborate with?
I can’t really put a finger on just one, but actually, the person that I was most excited to work with was Rod Wave because I know how anti-social he is and how he don’t really co-mingle with other artists. So, to be a fan of his music and now to have a song out –a song that I put together with him–really felt like a moment that I was waiting on.
Did you feel like he was a kindred spirit to you in that way?
Yeah, I feel like that’s definitely the exact same way I am. So, I can respect him for that.
Pop Smoke posthumously appears on “Clueless.” When did you guys record that song and how important was it to you to have his verse on the album?
The crazy thing about the Pop record is that it became special to me even more because we had recorded that the night before he passed.
Wow, that’s crazy. And your songs with Nicki and Wayne – I know you’ve mentioned Wayne to be a major inspiration in the past, and Nicki showed you lots of love before the album dropped. What was it like working with both of them?
Wayne is a legend. It didn’t even feel real to me that he was on the song until I got back home from the video and realized that I really just shot a video with Lil Wayne. Same with Nicki because everyone in my family is a Nicki fan –my mama, my sister, grandmama. Everyone congratulated me for getting her on the album.
Lil Tjay’s not on the album, but you guys always have great chemistry when you collaborate, and you featured on his album earlier this year, Destined 2 Win. Can you speak about that relationship a little bit?
Me and Tjay definitely got a lot of music in the works. We got a lot of music that we’re locked in on. It’s really just a matter of picking what songs to put out at this point.
Would you ever consider dropping a joint project together?
I don’t know. It would have to make sense. Like, both of our situations would have to line up. I know he just dropped his second for-real album [Destined 2 Win] and I’m dropping my third one, so I don’t know.
You recorded both The Goat and Hall of Fame after the pandemic hit. How were the two recording processes different or similar?
As soon as I put out The Goat, I started working on my new project, Hall of Fame. The recording process for Hall of Fame was flowing steady, though. I was in the stu’ every single day. Every single day I went to the stu’. Sometimes I may have took a shot before I went in the booth. I was just locked in and freestyling some of these songs, which is really not my forte. You know, I did a lot of things out of the norm just working on this album every day.
By doing that, did you get more comfortable freestyling songs in the booth?
Yeah, I’m getting better at it. The more I just keep rapping, the more I keep getting used to saying just what’s on my heart.
Musically, we hear a lot of classic Polo G on this album–storytelling, melodic production and some heavy-hitting tracks. With “GNF (OKOKOK)” being one of the first Hall of Fame songs you put out, was drill music an inspiration on this album?
I’ve got a lot of different music on there: chill music, turnt music, drill music. Some samples here and there. We’re playing with some popular samples and just a lot of different types of music. I wouldn’t say I really got a drill influence, but I feel like that’s my roots, me coming from Chicago. But I don’t necessarily deem the music I made drill, it’s more so like straight rap. Like, rap without the auto-tune.
You rep your hometown heavy and you also helped organize a traveling youth basketball team, the Chicago Grizzlies, for kids in the community. What inspired you to give back in that way?
It was something that was around when I was younger and that’s what made me want to make sure that the newer generation of kids have that for themselves, ‘cause I know we had that coming up.
What made you choose Hall of Fame as your third album’s title?
It was really just lining things up with me being legendary. I know I’m gonna be a legend in the game when it’s all said and done. I’ll definitely be one of the greatest rappers to ever do it. So, I feel like naming my album Hall of Fame was just me foreseeing the future.
Kind of like how you did with The Goat?