Polo and Hip-Hop, an Oral History [Pt. 2]

7. 2004 – Yeezy Taught Us:
Kanye West emerges on the scene in a bright array of tight golf shirts, popped collars, and sweaters featuring the signature Polo Bear. By portraying the traditional preppy image originally associated with Polo, Kanye contrasts hip-hop’s universal uniform of baggy jeans and throwback jerseys and reignites mainstream hip-hop’s interest in Polo, inspiring a new generation of ‘Lo Heads.

Kanye’s Top Five Polo Lyrical References:

  • “On the Polo Rugby it look so nice, how could something so wrong make me feel so right?”“Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix)”
  • “Back when they thought pink Polos would hurt the rock, before Cam got the shit to pop, the doors was closed.”“Touch the Sky”
  • “From the Polo Fleece, to the Jesus Piece/I got family in high places like Jesus’ niece/Can I please say my piece?/If y’all fresh to death, then I’m deceased.”“Selfish”
  • “As long as I’m in Polo smiling, the think they got me/But they would try to crack me if they ever saw the black me.”“Gorgeous”
  • “And I’m doin’ pretty hood in my pink Polo/Nigga please, how you gon’ say I ain’t no ‘Lo head/’Cause my Dior got me mo mo-del head?”“Barry Bonds”

Thirstin Howl III: Yeah, nobody who did ‘Lo in hip-hop ever did it that way until he did it. Because you know, everything else was hard. Even though it was preppy stuff, we didn’t look too preppy, man. We still looked hood and still looked thug and still looked pretty at the same time. I mean everybody got their own style. I ain’t mad at that. But I know how we do it. When I think of hip-hop, I think of streets. Everything came from the streets within hip-hop. Hip-hop is born in the streets. So the pure breed of it is street and the hood feel. Once you start taking hood away from everything, you mixing the DNA with something else, it’s not pure no more.

VADO: He kinda turned it up. But when Kanye was like that in the game, I was already like that outside the game. Like in the streets I was doin’ that. So, that’s one of the reasons why I was rocking with Kanye. Like, “Hey, this a Polo head.” He remind me of me, the way he bringing it to the game.

Sean Price: We was doin’ that before. I mean, I wasn’t doin’ no tight pants ever, but pink ain’t crazy to wear. It’s just crazy to wear everyday. You know what I mean? I’ve definitely busted out a pink shirt before back in the day, nah mean? But you rock that bitch, you put that bitch up. [laughs] You know Cam’Ron, I’m not mad at Cam’ron, though. Cam’Ron was rockin’ the pink right. It’s just that you know, that’s Harlem. In Brownsville, you get the dirty version of Cam’Ron. You’ll get a nigga with a nasty ass pink headband, with a big ass pink 5XL shirt with some dirty shoes on. Dirty pink is wrong, period. Never do dirty pink. Never do bummy pink, dirty pink, man. I suggest niggas don’t do pink like that, but you know, every now and then you wanna bust out one time, get extra with it. You can do that. I’m not mad at a nigga for that.

88-Keys: I thought it was funny that it became a style and that he kind of cultivated that style because him and my relationship is really tight. Like he’s one of my best friends. So just to see him spearhead something which became trendy, or him being identified with a style, was all really funny to me. It was almost unbelievable but again, this is like the beginning of his career as an artist. So, like that saying goes, who ever thought we would take it this far? Yeah, the one [line] that Kanye said on “Barry Bonds,” I thought was funny because I was in the studio with him when he came up with that verse, which was all completely freestyled straight off the top of his head into the mic. So, I was in the studio and [he was] like “How you gon’ tell me I ain’t no ‘Lo head?” I thought that was funny. I’m not saying that I had any influence on him coming up with that line because of who I am and him knowing the fact that I don’t rock anything but Polo… but it was just funny ‘cause we look at each other like, “Aw, this nigga.”

Just Blaze: Obviously I was there. I think you could definitely credit him. There’s obviously people who have been doin’ it, myself being one of them. But you can definitely credit him with bringing that preppy look back to the mainstream hip-hop audience. You can’t take that away from him. But even in those years when it wasn’t necessarily mainstream cool, there was always a certain sector of people who were always on it. From that preppy look even down to the more colorful vintage pieces, and that market’s always been there. But in terms of the mainstream hip-hop consciousness, I would definitely say he was the main force behind bringing that preppy look back… That element is always there. It never died, but it definitely fell back.

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  • http://www.jcalderon.com J.Calderon

    Trick Daddy: Are those Burgle Boy jeans you’re wearing? Hell no Ho, you know they’re Polo.

  • JAFFEjoe

    lol my nigga 88 keys a fool for that poncho story… hahahahaha

  • http://www.poloparties.ning.com POLO PRINCE SEMINOLE SEMI-LO The Big Bad woLf LOsceoLa Sport

    aLL You been had POLO Dudes are Funny! Get your LO up b4 You Show up. 2Ls up & 2nd to NONE, AhhWooo!

  • Father AL

    C’mon son! Nobody said P-wing?!?! Stadium ?!?!

  • Smear

    good shit. XXL NEEDS to follow this up with a feature on the Lo-Lifes: Thirstin Howl III deserves his shine as does up and comin Lo-Life Mehyem Lauren. For that “been had Polo” dude and YoungDro they need to see the true heat the Polo-Rican and Meyhem keep in their closet. Just Blaze and Dallas are crazy with that shit too…… I’d kill for their collection… or Just’s Bank balance.

  • dutchmaster

    what a good article….im coming up in the late 80s, 90s just at the end of the good era (wu-tang, grand puba) to the mid/late 90s…..i remember really being into nautica and tommy….when that shit came out about him being racist, he definitely took a hit, i only bought a little bit of nautica and mostly polo from then on…..and i can’t remember when i’ve bought any other kind of high designer “hip hop” brand other than polo

  • Suicide Kobain

    No mention of Grand Puba?

  • http://www.spag-lo.com SPAG-LO


  • http://www.spag-lo.com SPAG-LO

    >>>> @SpagLO <<<

  • http://www.showyalo.com Wiggz-LO, Extraordinaire

    Amen brotha Spag…once again, the ball has been fumbled in the red zone. I def. applaud the effort and the nod, but the execution was all wrong. With all the fly visuals floating around online, I can’t seem to understand why this didn’t come out better than it did. I used to have a lot of respect for XXL as a magazine, but even that went from sugat to sh*t over the years. Money that obviously did these got hype off the “POLO” remix and decided to whip something together before the competition could get the proper shine. If he really knew the time, he would see it goes much deeper than the brand…hell, even Thirst and Rae kept making references to the sh*t that set it off for Ralph to do what he did, yet all the focus gets put on the overly hype-beasted Snow Beach pully and some clown wit a corny youtube video…man, let me fall back….WWW.SHOWYALO.COM…the real headz know what it iz….

  • http://www.twitter.com/mdmamusic Victorious

    eh’ they tried. i dont know why some people were in the interview but im sure there are a lot of things i dont know .
    the piece vado mentioned was Rugby. not polo. there is a difference. but not everybody know the difference. not everybody gonna care either.
    it is what it is..
    i reached out to one of the brothers in the interview. and connected him up. stay tuned.
    peace to Lo Lifes.
    victorious lo.

  • The Nite Shift

    The Pimp C Reference is originally from Pimp C, but on a song Called “Doin’ the fool” E40 feat. Pimp C, to Short and Pastor Troy

  • Real Nigga 365

    Yall niggas still hating on Jose Hustle ? Seems like alot of yall old heads got offended from the young nigga’s video. Its was entertainment, do something with your life besides collecting clothes for nothing. He’s working on a degree from an HBCU im pretty sure he couldnt give 2 fucks who got vintage polo or who’s a real OG. He’s mentioned with the greats so let the lil nigga get his shine, fall back.

  • http://youtube.com/youngsheed1 Jose Hustle

    Much Luv to all the supporters and haters. I never thought I’d be mentioned with the Polo ambassadors above. Check out my video blog Jose Hustle TV on youtube, much more than Been Had.

    ** Yall so called Lo heads need to grow up, if your collection was soooooo dope as yall claim, You’d be in the article too

  • http://www.luckylogan.com Logan P. McCoy

    I liked Part 1 a whole lot better. I’m biased, sue me. “Guess and lo from head to toe to let you know, who got the props”. Come on… is it because he didn’t say polo in that song. You figure out what song it was.

  • Goose

    Why are you asking Vado and Young Dro’s opinion?? None of these have history with Lo.. Wearing a rugby from 2009 ain’t shit.. New jacks looking like idiots. Let The Lo Lifes tell this story.. Nice one XXL you screwed this story.

  • Young Bodybag

    What is this bullshit? Just Blaze and 88 Keys sucking their own dicks yet DCV gets minimal shine? This piece can’t even be thoroughly appreciated due to the underuse of potential with the interviewees. Dallas Penn, Thirstin Howl III, Ving, Rae and Sean P could’ve done this interview solo.

  • Brass Tacks

    Dro been rocking POLO! The South been rockin POLO! Get the hell outta here with another N.Y. made shit hot first write-up. The whole prep look was in style in GA back when another coast seemed more comfortable in timbs and a bubble down goose necked whatever the fuck Eskimos wear to keep warm in the antarctic. Please stop swinging from NY’s Hang low every time something that’s universally HIP-HOP. Gets written about!

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