The song “21” by Polo G off his album THE GOAT is a perfect example of poetry in rap. The album was released in May of 2020, and is Polo’s sophomore album. In the song, Polo G reminisces and walks through his past life, articulating everything he has experienced while being just 21. Polo G also pays homage to the late rapper Juice WRLD, who died last year from an overdose just days after turning 21. Both artists grew up in Chicago. A one-cut music video was released shortly after the song came out showing Polo walking through his childhood, which included him dodging bullets and fighting internal demons. This is one of many songs off his album that exhibits poetic elements.
Ever since I stepped up in this game, I’ve been a bomb threat
I was in the trenches, tryna see a life beyond that
In this part of the song Polo G uses assonance to push his message. The words “threat” and “that” do not rhyme with each other, but instead are words that are in close proximity to one another. There are many different parts of the song where this occurs, and it is an effective way to keep the flow of the song going without utilizing rhyme. The use of assonance plays a major role in connecting to the theme of the song. Polo explains here how he knew he had the potential to blow up as an artist, and how he was not content with the current situation he was in. His horizon was much greater than staying in the neighborhood where he grew up. Hyperbole is used here as well because he is not actually a “bomb threat” and he did not actually live in “trenches.” The terminology, however is relatable for a large portion of his audience.
I just been ballin’ on these n****s, like I’m Kendrick Nunn
In this part of the song Polo uses simile to draw a comparison to a basketball player. While Polo means he is surpassing other rappers in success, the person he compares himself to is important in alluding to the theme of the song. Kendrick Nunn is a basketball player for the Miami Heat and was a “Rookie of the Year” candidate this past season. He grew up just minutes away from Polo G and had a similar success story in making it out of his neighborhood and becoming a star. Polo G could have choose someone much more prominent to reference like Michael Jordan or LeBron James. The fact that he chose to compare himself to someone who was in a similar position goes to show the significance Chicago still has to him.
Decorate your block with red tape, foenem slidin’ every day
Bunch of hollows spittin’ out the Glock
I been servin’ fiends all day, out there posted with the gang
N***a, we was taught to get it off the block
While there are many more poetic devices included in “21,”Imagery is the last of them I will be discussing. Imagery is an essential part of music because it can help put the audience in whatever situation the artist desires. In this beginning portion, the vivid imagery of the lyrics shapes the theme of the song. An immediate impression can be made regrading what the song contains. Chicago terminology and slang is also included, and is an effective way to connect to the specific audience he is attempting to reach.