Polo G – 2020 XXL Freshman
- GOV'T NAME: Taurus Bartlett
- AGE: 21
- REPPIN': Chicago
- TWITTER: @Polo_Capalot
- INSTAGRAM: @polo.capalot
- NOTABLE RELEASES: Singles: “Pop Out” featuring Lil Tjay, “Heartless” featuring Mustard, “Go Stupid” with Stunna 4 Vegas and NLE Choppa featuring Mike WiLL Made-It, “Flex” featuring Juice Wrld; Albums: Die a Legend, The Goat; Guest Appearances: Lil Durk’s “3 Headed Goat” featuring Lil Baby, Calboy’s “Caroline,” Juice Wrld and Marshmello’s “Hate the Other Side” featuring The Kid Laroi
- LABEL: Columbia Records
- WHO ELSE SHOULD BE PART OF THIS YEAR'S CLASS: “Stunna 4 Vegas”
- INFLUENCED BY: “Artists that I paid a lot of attention to was Lil Wayne and every rapper that was coming out of Chicago. I rock with Meek Mill, too. [Lil Wayne’s] lyricism made me wanna be bar-heavy.”
- AS A FRESHMAN IN HIGH SCHOOL: “I was privy to a lot of stuff at an early age, but I was still naive.”
POLO G'S 2020 XXL FRESHMAN FREESTYLE
Chicago rap has been rightfully represented on XXL Freshman covers since the franchise's inception. The city celebrated Lupe Fiasco's induction into the inaugural class in 2007, then came Chief Keef in 2013, Chance The Rapper, Lil Durk, Lil Bibby and Vic Mensa in 2014, Tink in 2015, and G Herbo in 2016. Now, Polo G continues to carry the torch for Chi-town greats with his own entry into the 2020 XXL Freshman Class.
"Me coming up as a kid, before I ever knew I wanted to rap, before I knew what XXL was for real, I had seen a lot of artists from Chicago on the cover, and that made me wanna do it," shares the Columbia Records signee, who names Lil Wayne, every rapper that was coming out of Chicago and Meek Mill as artists he listened to on the come up. "I seen so many people from Chicago get on the cover, like [Lil] Durk, [G] Herb[o] or Chance [The Rapper], Tink and so many people from the city. So, that just made it a goal of mine to do the same thing."
As showcased on his 2019 platinum-selling debut album, Die a Legend, Polo G's been instilling nobility within himself without the need for outside approval for quite some time. "Told myself that I'm the greatest, I won't wait ’til they notice," the 21-year-old MC raps on "A King's Nightmare." Polo's skill as a rapper and songwriter derives from storytelling through lived experiences, walking through homicide puddles that leave blood stains on his sneakers, witnessing trouble in the hood and grieving friends' tragic deaths from bullet wounds. He doesn't sugarcoat reality in his bars; the battle scars are real and he's steady conquering the struggles.
Somber memories aren't all he's sharing though. Through his sing-song cadence and earnest words, Polo speaks from the heart on tracks like the endearing "Martin & Gina," an ode to his special lady and homage to the 1990's TV sitcom Martin. The accompanying music video finds the Chicago rhymer putting his acting chops and comedic timing on full display as the character Martin. Thespian level achieved.
When it comes to his 2020 XXL Freshman freestyle, Polo G leaves the laughter for the storyboard. This anecdote hits hard as he addresses the reality of life as a young Black man trying to see dreams become reality. "Summatime, out there slavin', we exhausted from the heat/Betta get a ride home ’cause ain't no walkin' when it's beef/They only wanna know his story when they chalk him in the street," he raps. "25 is just a age we don't often get to see."
Polo uses his music as catharsis, ditching the psychology session to face his demons in the booth. "Told bro to stay on point ’cause they'll knock ’em off to get to me/Stuck in my gangsta ways, I'm living lawless in the street/Ain't go to see a therapist, I just start talkin' to them beats/I'm just tryna be that baller that my dawg ain't get to be/I got bigger dreams ’cause I ain't doing all this shit for me," the 2020 XXL Freshman delivers, paying respect to fallen friends like Gucci, the man that inspired the "G" in Polo's rap moniker.
He then gives a nod to his own worth ethic before the pièce de résistance: "Always findin' somethin' to get into with my crook ass/Then I beat the odds ’cause I could come up with a hook fast/P-O-L-O G, that's just a name that you can't look past/I'm goin' No. 1 for all the times that we was put last."
Watch Polo G's 2020 XXL Freshman freestyle, powered by Rap Caviar, below.—Georgette Cline
POLO G'S ABCs
Rap is a competitive sport that Polo G takes seriously. The hoop dreams he once had to make it in the NBA have transformed into a reality as a lauded, multiplatinum-selling rapper with lyrical substance and big-league bars. Die a Legend and The Goat albums are his game-winning shots. His deadpan demeanor at times means he's focused on the bigger picture of his career. Speaking to the beats instead of a therapist leaves little room for laughter, but there's a time and a place for everything. Polo shares a few laughs and offers a deeper look into the man behind the music in his version of XXL's ABCs.
To kick things off, Polo G gives a shout-out to singer Ashanti for the letter A. He even sings his way through some of her 2002 hit song "Foolish." Up next is basketball for B. "I was supposed to go to the NBA," the 21-year-old Chicago MC reveals before accepting his fate on "some rap stuff." C brings up his love for Chanel while D recalls his Chicago stomping grounds and humble beginnings. "Dirt, I got it out the mud, you know," Polo affirms.
One thing that is clearly evident here is Polo G's love for cars. F is for the foreign car he needs everywhere he goes, H stands for the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat he may likely own in his future and R represents the racing he does on the expressway in his BMW i8 late at night.
He doesn't take losses as exhibited by the letter L and the nickname Wolo G that his loyal supporters affectionally call him to celebrate his wins. And something that really gets him riled up is the quarantine when Q hits. "Oh my god, quarantine, I hate it," he says matter-of-factly. As O arrives, Wolo stays true to himself. "Fuck all the opps, you know how I'm boming," he says with a laugh. For S, he keeps it real about the slimy business dealings he's witnessed.
And most importantly, family comes into play for Polo when he gets to T. "Tremani, my son," the rhymer expresses. "I love him."
Get to know more about Polo G as his personality shines in his version of the ABCs below.—G.C.
POLO G, JACK HARLOW AND LIL KEED'S 2020 XXL FRESHMAN CYPHER
Combining artists for a hip-hop cypher can always be a tricky business, but, provided each rapper stays true to themselves, it can work out really well. So, it should be no surprise that 2020 XXL Freshmen Polo G, Jack Harlow and Lil Keed did just that to deliver memorable performances for their 2020 XXL Freshman cypher.
Spitting over an energetic, uptempo beat produced by Grammy Award-nominated, South Carolina producer Jetsonmade, who's the music curator for this year's class, each artist brings their own sauce to the mix.
Lousiville, Ky. rhymer Jack Harlow kicks things off with a bouncy flow, tight rhyme schemes and a sense of humor. "My shit classic, Tom & Jerry/Lotta commentary, shit seem cool but it's gotten scary/Fuck the game up, I'm poppin' cherries/At the mall they stop and staring/I got birds, but they not canaries," Harlow spits on the track.
Next up is Atlanta's Lil Keed, who offers some flexes about designer drip, carrying weight and stick-toting over the course of about 30 seconds. "Pounds in the bookbag/Not goin' to school/Got sticks in the jeans, got straps on the shoes," he raps. "Oou, get wavy/Oou, biscotti blunt/Oou, I face it/I'm comin' with cadence."
Finishing things off is Polo G, who takes the XXXTentacion route by going full a cappella mode after having Jetsonmade cut the beat. The Chicago native serves paragraphs' worth of quotable bars that includes him speaking on new generation gangstas and deactivating souls during his minute-long verse.
"Kick in his door and put that sawed in his mouth/I'll have my killers come and paint the walls in his house/Deactivate his soul, hollows logging him out/Lost his mind, seen that blood from his dog spilling out/I was on the front line, standing tall in the drought/I been going hard like I gotta ball for the scouts," Polo raps in a ferocious verse.
Check out Polo G, Jack Harlow and Lil Keed's 2020 XXL Freshman cypher below.—Peter A. Berry
See the 2020 XXL Freshman Class