ALBUM REVIEW: Polo G, Hall of Fame
“Painting Pictures” was a great start to the album. With it’s piano-based trap production and vivid storytelling, Polo G raps about his fallen friends and those currently still grinding. “Lil Wooski ain't your average teen, he see the opps, gon' bang it out / He know exactly how to hit they block like that's his favorite route.” The way Polo G raps about violence and his flow makes the track hard to ignore. I like how the second verse of the song, he points out the irony of these gang wars saying that “Say, ‘Fuck the opposites,’ but deep down, we really all alike.” Then this song goes to an event that seems to haunt Polo G throughout the whole album. His friend from elementary school literally stabbed him in the back, giving him very justifiable trust issues. This song had a lot to unpack, but Polo G expertly was able to bring the listener up to speed.
When I first heard “RAPSTAR,” I wasn’t the biggest fan, but after listening to it in the context of the album, it did grow on me. With its guitar lead trap production, catchy chorus, punchy lines, and a lot of introspection; this track has way more meaning than I originally thought it had. Polo G raps about struggling with fame and that he has to make sure he looks like he is having a good time on the surface and to his fans when he is having a lot of issues dealing with his anxiety and trust issues.
“Toxic” has another great guitar based trap beat that has this sinister overtone. The chorus is solid, but now you start seeing the pattern of his flow. I like the Juice WRLD reference on the track, “Legends never die, you the reason I stopped poppin’ Percs.” I see a lot of similarities with Polo G and Juice Wrld with their production and the subject matter, except I think Polo G is more self aware. Especially when he calls out his white boy fans from the burbs on the track for saying that he does not go hard enough. “GANG GANG (with Lil Wayne)” is definitely one of the low points on this album. Lil Wayne had a grip on the culture as a whole in the past, but having a Wayne feature in 2021 is nothing to be impressed by. Polo G had an okay first verse about him flexing, but then there must have been an echo in the room, because Lil Wayne’s verse sounds very similar to Polo G’s. And on top of that, this beat does not sound like it belongs on this album. It sounds like “Strange Clouds” by B.o.B. that also had Wayne. It’s loud synths make this song stick up from the album, but not in a good way.
The production on “Boom" was done super well. The instrument on this beat sounded like violins and the noise builds until we get to the chorus and then Polo G explodes on the track. “Like, boom / We make it hot like it's June / Turn his white tee to maroon” it’s a hard chorus because at the end of second verse when he talks about sending the opp to the “End of the tunnel, he gon’ see that light shine / Like boom.” It acts like a metaphorical gunshot like he just sent the guy through the tunnel. “Black Hearted” is another great song that is produced well and the lyrics are done pretty well. For a song about how people are unable to understand him, he does a good job at explaining himself. Since he has been through so much trauma in his past, he has a hard time trusting people and that made him “Black Hearted.” I liked the part of the song where he talks to his girl and tries to explain why he doesn’t like being with her all the time. “Like girl, I love you, but it's only so much I can tolerate / Like girl, I love you, but it's only so much that my heart can take / Like let's give it a rest, girl, I just wanna give my heart a break.”
“Broken Guitars (with Scorey)” is tied for being one of the worst songs on this project. Scorey ruins the track for me entirely. His bars are just so bad compared to Polo G. “Plus I got bands on me like Aerosmith, why I walk this way,” comes off as corny. “Go Part 1 (with G Herbo)” was a great track. Polo and Herbo’s flow work well with this beat and it’s really dope to see these 2 Chicago rappers go toe-to-toe on a track. Plus the bars on this song were great. A couple of my favorites were “He reach for this Carti', it's gon' be a whole lot of red” and “Yeah, livin' in the slums, we just wishin' for a hero / Expensive nightmares on a— / Expensive nightmares on a Maybach pillow.” The imagery on this track keeps it interesting.
“Heart of a Giant (with Rod Wave)” is a standard pop trap song. I just don’t think the production was that great. This song then starts a series of songs that kind of just drag on the album. “Zooted Freestyle” had a synth heavy beat that didn’t go with the album. “Party Lyfe (with DaBaby)” is definitely a song you can play in the background of a party, with it’s upbeat production and lyrics about the party lyfe. I liked the aggressive DaBaby line about the Winslows and then when Polo G sings the chorus, DaBaby clarifies that he was referencing Family Matters. Something about him clarifying just cracked me up. “Losses (with Young Thug)” sounded like a generic trap song. It was kinda boring lyrically and production-wise. “So Real” was another song that was a low point for me. His flow on this song kind of reminds me of The Cahinsmoker’s flow on “Closer” and the production sounds like that as well with the guitars on the chorus.
After a couple of okay songs, “For the Love of New York (with Nicki Minaj)” is next and it reminds me of a Pink Friday-era Nicki with her Barb flow on this track. The production sounds more like an island banger and the chorus is done very well. Polo G’s singing is pretty solid on this track too. I was nervous to listen to this song since it has the late Pop Smoke on it, however “Clueless (with Pop Smoke & Fivio Foreign)” is a solid track. Pop Smoke sounds bad ass on the chorus and Fivio Foreign sounds just as tough as Pop. The only issues I have with this song is that the production sounds more like something off of Meet the Woo, and Polo G gets lost in the shuffle on this track.
Closing track “Bloody Canvas” was definitely the best way to end this album with it’s dark story telling of vengeance and murder. Polo G’s description is so vivid on this track that you can visualize these graphic scenes in your head clearly. “Baow" / Blood oozin' with his back on the ground / Vision blurry, heartbeat slowin' down / Blood comin' out his mouth, feel like he startin' to drown / Tires screechin', last thing he heard was that sound.” This description made me feel uncomfortable, serving it's purpose with a hard hit of truth. The song ends with one of Polo G’s friends finding the guy who killed their friend, murdering him. In real life, he was sentenced to 28 years in prison when he was already facing 25. The song ends on a sample of the newscaster describing the court case. Overall, this album was varying degrees of entertaining from start to finish, with some major potholes along the way. Polo G’s talent for storytelling shines on this album and his lyrics are filled with charisma. He could have cut out around 7 tracks on this album and it would have definitely gotten a higher grade. That being said, the highs on this album outweigh the negatives as he provides interesting perspectives, snappy lines, and some well needed summer bangers.