How To Rap Like Polo G
Co-Written with Jason Cuthbert
Taurus Tremani Bartlett, known to us all as the young rapper Polo G, has taken his hardcore Chicago drill sound into a more melodic style direction in the last two years.
Polo kicked things off by recording his first song “O.D.A.,” now the name of his own record label, ODA Records, which stands for Only Dreamers Achieve.
He lit up SoundCloud in 2018 with “Gang With Me,” “Never Cared,” and “Welcome Back”.
During a two-month stint in jail, Polo G wrote his breakout mainstream song “Finer Things,” showcasing the smoother flow he has made millions with.
Catchy commercial melodies executed with gritty, eye-opening storytelling from his Chicago state of mind are the ingredients that Polo G cooks up with.
Partying and pleasure are priorities in his songwriting.
But Polo G is definitely not afraid of tackling tough lyrical concepts such as mental health issues and racial discrimination as well.
Polo G’s hip hop influences include icons like Lil’ Wayne and 2Pac, along with famed Chicago phenoms like Chief Keef, G Herbo, and Lil’ Durk.
But if the Northside Chicago spitter is in your favorite rapper list, we can help you understand how to rap like Polo G.
Let’s break down his melody, song structure, and subject matter on “Wishing for a Hero,” “Pop Out,” and “Heartless.”
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3. “Wishing for a Hero”
For the first 16 bars of “Wishing for a Hero,” Polo G rips a rapid flow with each of the last three syllables all rhyming.
Before you think the whole verse is going that way, he spends the next 8 bars rhyming two different syllables at the end of each line.
Then he alternates back to ending each of the next 12 bars with the same 3 syllables.
For final 8 bars, Polo G bounces back to ending bars with the same 2 syllables, then the last 4 bars all rhyme with “way it is” to lead into the chorus.
Right after the first listen you realize Polo G side stepped the typical two or three verse song structure.
He gives you all of his lyrics in one long 44-bar verse.
The 8-bar chorus is only said once after the verse and features BJ The Chicago Kid.
Finally, there is an outro conclusion with BJ The Chicago Kid and Lela to lead us out of the song.
Polo G shows off his socially conscious side on this song, breaking out of the street life box just like the late, great Tupac Shakur was able to:
“Pac inspired my way of thinking and just making me be able to want to speak out on problems or not be afraid to speak up…To me, Pac was a gangster and a revolutionist. I just try to represent myself in that same way, but still being able to be articulate and show my knowledge.”Polo G, Billboard, May 28, 2020
With a lack of mentors, role models, and leaders, Polo G talks about how hard it is to survive low income living as an African American with lines like:
“Post-traumatic stress, so them triggers keep gettin’ tapped
R.I.P. Malcolm, I promise to conquer and fill them gaps.”Polo G, “Wishing For A Hero”
Another legendary black leader of the Civil Rights era makes it into Polo G lyrics as well:
“Profit with a billion-dollar mind like I’m JAY-Z
They killed Martin for dreamin’ and now I can’t sleep.”Polo G, “Wishing For A Hero”
2. “Pop Out” (featuring Lil Tjay)
Polo G and Lil’ Tjay kick a sing-songy flow over these eerie pianos with deep 808 bass and bubbling drums.
Polo G sets it off with a verse where he stretches the second-to-last syllable of each bar.
In fact, all 12 bars rhyme:
“Diamonds in the Rollie, they in HD like it’s Blu-Ray
The way that I been ballin’ should make the cover of 2K.”Polo G, “Pop Out”
Polo G also takes a pause after each line ends, adding a moment to not only digest each catch bar, but to also create a swaying motion through the course of his segment.
Lil’ Tjay pulls off the same trick as Polo G, trying all 12 of his bars, but his follow the last 3 syllables of each verse.
Tjay’s wordplay takes a pause in the middle of each of his lines, following right between the gap between the kick and snare drum.
On the chorus, the melody is made with Polo riding the piano keys as they cascade up and down.
After a super brief intro, Polo G sings an 8-bar chorus, detailing robbery action, explaining how he and his crew could “Pop Out” guns if necessary.
Starting with a chorus can be an effective way to get your audience directly into the vibe and energy of the song and run up your streaming numbers by gaining the listeners’ undivided attention from the jump.
“Pop Out” featuring the Bronx, New York rapper Lil’ Tjay, is the 2019 track that peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
“Pop Out” did just that, its music video popped off with over 200 million views on YouTube and made Polo G a major recording artist signee at Columbia Records.
“I know for ‘Pop Out’ specifically, the hook was something I was keeping in my back pocket. I came back to it at a later time when I was in a session with Tjay. As far as like, bars go, I was like, what do I want to say? I done took the same approach to so many other songs that I made in the past and this is the first time I’m actually doing a sing-song thing. So, I was like what can I say that can be kind of commercial and street at the same time.”Polo G, Pitchfork, June 12, 2020
Polo clearly found a way to take a gritty song concept with an aggressive story come across as a catchy commercial anthem.
We get some mysterious strings and keys, sounding like a psychedelic video game.
Polo G bounces on this beat, holding words for emphasis, moving his voice smoothly like he was inside a trippy dream fantasy.
But his lyrics are still harsh and serious even with the colorful music that he is rapping over.
This time around, Polo G comes with a more typical song structure: an 8-bar chorus, a 12-bar verse, an 8-bar chorus, a second 12-bar verse, and the third and last 8-bar chorus to take the song home.
What stands out about “Heartless” is that Polo G uses the same flow on the chorus as he does on the first verse.
Even though this decision might sound lazy, it is actually a great way for Polo to slide in between these song elements without an abrupt change over such a breezy, hypnotic beat.
Polo G takes you inside the minds of youth that grew up around him, feeling helplessly struck in the life of hustling in the hood.
He makes it known that desperation can create drastic measures when your life is on the line when he raps:
“Way more than life than just the hood, I’m tryna reach goals
Maxine my heart, since you’ve been gone, I miss your sweet soul, ayy
Never tell a statement, we won’t leak those
Better not go talkin’ to them people, better keep closed.”Polo G, “Heartless”
Polo G spoke about how his style on “Heartless” came about and how he approach’s songs like this:
“I just knew I wanted to go about it in a way that I usually didn’t and really switch it up from Die a Legend, take a new approach in how I sing certain parts on the song with the hook. I was intentional with dragging out the last word of each bar on the hook. In certain sessions, when you hear a hard beat, you let it talk to you to let you know what to say back. So, really just listen to the beat like, ok, this is how I am supposed to come on this.”Polo G, Pitchfork, June 12, 2020
How To Rap Like Polo G: Final Secret
Polo G is well-aware of the countless music options his audience has and the massive competition that are all reaching for his spot:
“I try to figure out, like what could be the turning point in the song, or what could be the way that I could switch it up in a way to keep their attention. Because if I just rap the same tone, the same pace the whole entire song, you are going to feel like, ok, I’m over this at some point. But if I switch it up somewhere in there then that is going to keep their attention.”Polo G, Pitchfork, June 12, 2020
In closing, rapping like Polo G means making people see what you are saying in an unpredictable fashion that they can’t seem to forget.
You should be picking contagious melodies that will remain locked in your fan’s memories, a variation in subject matter, vivid storytelling, and switching up your song structures.
Being able to make an entire verse rhyme is an absolute skill that can showcase how mighty your pen is, separating you from more straightforward rappers with a limited vocabulary.
But making every verse rhyme all the way through isn’t recommended on every song, especially if there are different, more interesting words you can use to make your point.
Is also important to do as Polo G does and mix up the way in which your bars rhyme so that they don’t fall into a repetitive trap that bores your listeners to death.
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