The RX is Uproxx Music’s stamp of approval for the best albums, songs, and music stories throughout the year. Inclusion in this category is the highest distinction we can bestow, and signals the most important music being released throughout the year. The RX is the music you need, right now.
Rap is in a funny place these days. 20 years ago, it might have been considered laughable to imagine singing of drug dealing, murder, and poverty so earnestly and, well, sweetly — 50 Cent and Ja Rule’s respective reigns notwithstanding. Today, though, it seems as though hip-hop is finally coming to terms with the melodic swing of the last decade, combining the rhythmic inclinations of traditionalists and the crooning of so-called Soundcloud rap to get back to something resembling the basics.
This balanced approach has been producing some truly impressive results of late as well. Take Chicago rapper Polo G and his riveting debut album, Die A Legend, released over this past weekend to a churning online buzz propelled by its inescapably catchy lead single, “Pop Out.” Polo adopts the stylistic mannerisms of other recent breakout artists like Gunna, Lil Baby, and Roddy Ricch to craft a project that still stands out thanks to Polo’s gutsy and reflective autobiographical sincerity.
The thing about “Pop Out” is that while it’s an unequivocal party banger that showcases Polo’s gift for wordplay, structure, and cadence, it barely scratches the surface of Polo’s narrative abilities. Though it contains bars like “The way that I been ballin’ should make the cover of 2K,” and the whole hook is an incredible clinic on internal rhyme, Polo is at his best when the hard shell cracks and he reveals snippets of his vulnerable center.
The melancholy, yet motivational “PST” is a prime example, summing up both the young rapper’s drive and the circumstances from which it derives. “System got the hood f*cked up, killers, crack fiends, and some Christians / Lil’ n—-, all he know is bang, only 16, on a mission,” he explains in the first verse, which bolsters the chorus’ refrain of “For my family, gotta build a legacy, I’ma be the man when I’m dead.” He’s hyper-aware of the desperation of his surroundings, but equally determined to leave them behind and bring his family with him.