POLO CHAMP “MAJOR WORK VOLUME 1″ REVIEW
By: Bryan Peckinpaugh
I should start this out by saying this won’t be an unbiased review. One, I grew up with Bryan “Polochamp” Jolly back in Cleveland. More importantly though I love hip hop, specifically the way the music should be portrayed which is intelligent flow with songs that have more purpose than getting played in the club or bragging on the trappings of the thug lifestyle. If you cut your teeth on music like Eric B. and Rakim, Tribe, De La Soul, and others than you might want to put this album on repeat and bang out for an hour. At just under 20 minutes that will get you three listens at each song which is enough to start digesting the content.
You know right from the first song what Polo is all about. Starting with references to his family, commitment to making music, and bettering himself he lays the major themes for the album. This also is the start of what appears to be nods to his musical influences, coming off like modern version of Slick Rick’s la-di-da-di with a more positive message. This is followed, in Flyy, by what could be viewed as a sequel to Common’s H.E.R. following hip hop past the golden age and into a cliche of itself. In the song he keeps the future open ended and I, for one, hope Polo’s vision of rap is the way we go. The other track that seem to reference other works is Major Work which features Jim Viza paying credit to Polo and performing some of his written verses ala NAS’ “Book of Rhymes”.
Polo accomplishes a lot with the 7 songs on this EP. You get a full historical perspective on his rise in Cleveland, his musical influences (as I’ve mentioned), his current life, and his look into the future. But if you’re not paying attention you might miss it. For example, on my first listen, I got to Ghetto Dreams and got a little pissed hearing a line about Cleveland battle fields being like Sierra Leonne because I thought the album wasn’t going to be hyperbole and glorification of street life. But that’s just the layers of his music, it’s never what it appears on he surface. After going back I realized its really a reference to his upbringings and gifts, material and otherwise, from his family (found out later he was referring to his grandfather specifically). He was linking the challenge of growing up with those gifts and the adversity one faces and the challenge that comes in an impoverished country with a hugely valuable export being exploited and the real dangers of tarnishing those jewels. Once I wrapped my head around that, it changed the way I viewed the whole album.
With all that said, don’t for a minute think Polo doesn’t drop some hot lines, challenges to other MC’s, and shots at the throne. My two favorites are:
“Let me speak to your manager, whoever handles ya, they built ya up, I’m a dismantle ya” – Cannon
“I swear I wanna be like fuck the fame, but it’s who you know, so I must make a name” – Riiiight
My only criticism of this release is that the hooks seem to be almost an after thought and don’t always fit with the songs. I think Polo is at his best on Riiiight where he forgoes the traditional hook and links all the verses together bleeding into the last track. All things considered that is a pretty minor critique for an initial release and one I’m sure Polo will address on future efforts.. I’d highly recommend downloading this EP and keeping an eye out for future Polochamp projects.