The man who is bringing the soulful-blues feel back to the mainstream of hip-hop
Growing up in Milwaukee, Chicago music held a special place in my heart. Being from where I was, and as a music loving child, I was drawn to the emotionally evocative nature sof Chicago blues. It represented so much of what I could understand around me, the millions of people who weren’t living for more, or less, but simply living, dealing with life as it came, and making the best of it. Obviously growing up in the 2000’s, I was well aware of Kanye and Common’s influence (can’t forget Lupe) on the game, but there was no real sense of Midwestern, grinding it out of nothing, from below any expectations of anyone cave, attitude that would soon become common. I can still remember being a freshman in high school, finding my homie in the library during class and walking up behind him, mesmerized by the images on the screen. Chicago boys bouncing around in an apartment, glocks and dracos bouncing around between hands as they jubilantly roasted their opponenets. They were talking the talk that I had grown up hearing, but finally it was on a track where it fit like a corner puzzle piece. I fell in love instantly.
Throughout the next decade my tastes would cycle, but I would always find myself coming back to those Chicago rappers from the Southside. When I first heard Polo G, I knew that it was something special. First off was him being from the Northside. Don’t get me wrong, Durkio is the Voice of the Trenches (name a place he can’t go) and G Herbo is the NLMB Tupac, but those boys are both are five to six years older than myself. Polo G is a man that I can look into his eyes and I’m looking at someone who is the same age as myself, who grew up an hour and a half from myself, and there is no looking away from the pain. Sure, I’ve taken losses, lost friends and family throughout my childhood and to this day, but I never had to see them take the slugs, or drop down to the ground gasping for air. His voice isn’t the loudest or the deepest, but the absolute conviction imbued into every word within Polo’s verses put the listener into his mind for the time that he’s rapping. The piano heavy beats that he is most comfortable on lend themselves to fans having to truly listen to his words and let them hit in full. His style is a beautiful mix of soul and blues with his hometown drill influences (Lil Durk, G Herbo, Young Pappy) always lurking in the shadows, ready to pop out of the cut at any moment if you’re caught lacking.
Growing up on the Northside of Chicago in the Marshall Field Garden apartments, Taurus Bartlett (aka Polo G) became accustomed to violence, drugs and death from an early age. Much of his family had called the area home for generations, but as the inevitable jaws of gentrification clamped around the Northside, many individuals found themselves without places to live as the city tore down projects to make room for newer developments trying to bring in a different (white) crowd. This juxtaposition was one of the driving factors for Polo when he began creating music, being so close yet so far from the comfortable middle-class living that surrounded him. In a story that was replicated thousands of times across the city, Taurus began hustling and causing trouble from a young age and being arrested numerous times for small offenses. The last of these arrests came in 2018, and when Taurus walked out of Cook County Jail, it was with a conviction that he would never return. It wasn’t too long after that he released his first mixtape 1300 (February 2019) hosted by the stalwart DJ Sam Hoody, and with that the fuse was ignited. His track with New York up and comer Lil TJay, “Pop Out”, absolutely blew up, garnering over 100 million views on YouTube and even getting a remixed version with the Atlanta wonder twins Lil Baby and Gunna. He was able to continue this hot streak when he released his debut album, Die a Legend, in June 2019 to critical and cultural acclaim in addition to stamping his spot at the front of the new class of artists. Since then, Polo has been on a steady diet of features with artists across the US, and he cannot seem to lose. Although he is truly green when it comes to the game, he stands toe to toe with any artist he is on the track with, even one of his idols G Herbo on a track with the crooner Clever.