Brooklyn Punk Goes Drill rapper Polo Perks has a cinematic flair. His new song, "HeadHi," incorporates melodramatic production from his Surf Gang crewmate EvilGiane, as well as veteran beatmaker Clams Casino. Over it, he mumble-sings a simple eight-bar refrain about a clingy romantic partner, repeated twice with what functions as a four-bar bridge in the middle. Pasto Flocco (also of Surf Gang) contributes backing vocals so low in the mix they're almost inaudible, but they contribute color to the beat's tapestry.
It's the video, though — directed by Polo's friend and frequent collaborator Dottie — that sets "HeadHi" apart from most of the rapper's earlier work. Set at a massive Connecticut farm at the peak of fall, it features sweeping drone sequences and hi-res static shots of Polo pouring his heart out in a purple-and-yellow-striped rugby shirt as horses gallop behind him.
"HeadHi" comes from I.C.F.M. Pt.3, a new mixtape dropping this Friday, November 19. Polo kept fans in the dark about the acronym's meaning on Pts.1&2, but he's finally revealed that it stands for "I Can't Feel Much." The 19-track tape is as chaotic as it is fun. Its production comes from all corners of the weirdo rap universe — from established acts like Shlohmo to newcomers like Sundiata and Axelbloodyaxel — also a member of the LA rave kid collective Deathproof [Inc], which makes music that feels almost as transgressive as Odd Future's did 10 years ago).
"No other artist would throw their fresh homies on a track on an actual album," Polo proudly told The FADER.
Sundiata and Axel get their shot on the I.C.F.M. Pt.3's 16th track, "410," a demonic flip of Clams Casino's Imogen Heap-sampling 2011 track "I'm God." After that, we're treated to Surf Gang producer TommyToHotty's take on Skrillex's 2010 freakout "Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites." The real Clams Casino enters on "HeadHi" a track later, before an EvilGiane-produced closer takes us home.
"It’s an experience for people," Polo said of all the 10-year nostalgia. "We want people to be like 'Yo, remember this?'”
Watch the "HeadHi" video above, and read our conversation with Polo Perks below.
The FADER: How did you decide on the video’s setting?
Polo Perks: The process happened in 24 hours. I was trying to rush this visual because I liked the track so much. So me and my boys were thinking about what would be a good setting. We try to stand out as much as possible and seem artsy, as much as they try to gritty New York rapper us or urban alternative experience us. We try to wager it out so we don’t sit here and always get classified. It was really different for us, because it wasn’t all that fast-motion stuff we’ve been dropping throughout the year. It’s very slow and cinematic. We didn’t try to dumb down, but we did try to make it for everybody.
The song feels like a breakup track. Is it aimed at anyone in particular, or is it meant to be more abstract?
I never make music for one person. I make music for the people that’s closer to the person I am. Hold up real quick. [Ordering at a deli]: Let me get egg whites, home fries and beef sausage, well done. [Deli guy: Patties or links?] Links. [To The FADER]: I mainly think about the type of person I was, or still am. I can’t really get to be fully who I am because of this music stuff, but I’m a weirdo. It’s not normal to be normal. That’s really who I make music for: the people who can’t talk to nobody. They may have groups of friends that’s not really understanding, or somebody they would want to understand them but can’t understand them. Basically, I make music for people that’s unheard, outcasts; people who are called loser or weirdo. But that’s not really the title they should be getting — it should be GOAT. That’s how I’m feeling.
“HeadHi” is only 76 seconds, which is a pretty typical track length for you. It’s refreshing at a time when so much hip-hop is so bloated with features. Even the posse cut on SGV1 is only 2:13. Why do you prefer the short format?
You want the real answer?
We all ‘90s babies, we all 2000s babies, a.k.a. we all crack babies, a.k.a. we all got ADHD, a.k.a. our attention span is not that long! So it’s short and simple — not too much, not too little. I know everybody in this age has some type of disorder that wouldn’t make it so easy to feel certain songs, like back in the day with Mary J. Blige. Not everyone can feel Mary J., but there’s no limitations on the people that can feel my music because of how considerate I am to who I think is my fans.
It also strikes me as pretty punk.
I try not to even call it punk; it’s just Polo. If you say “punk” to people, it’s gonna get a bunch of people like “Nah,” so it’s strictly Polo. Even though I see myself as punk — I’m against everything other people stand for — my music is just alternative, just Polo. That’s the only way we can classify it. You can’t go to the next artist to try to hear a song like me.
What did you think about the new Young Thug album, Punk?
You think I would listen to that? Nah, hell nah! I haven’t listened to Thug, I haven’t to Gunna, I haven’t listened to Travis Scott, I haven’t listened to Pop Smoke. I’ve never searched any of these names in the past three years. Ever since it’s been Surf Gang, that’s all I’ve been focused on. Because I know at any given time they could just sit here and dump money into an artist that’s already established and give him my whole catalog and say “copy this,” and he could do it. And they could buy out the producers — well, it’s not like that; I wouldn’t stop my brothers from makin’ bread — so it’s easy for them to come out here and try to replica what we’re doing. I’ve just gotta keep on top of it so it’s never repetitive. So when it comes to listening to other people, I really don’t. I don’t wanna sound like any of these other kids nowadays. I listen to 2005–2010 Pharrell, 2000s Kanye, 2000s Snoop, and strictly rock music: Taking Back Sunday, Fall Out Boy, Silversun Pickups, Arcade Fire. Have you seen Kid Cudi’s new documentary? There’s a whole part where he says he made it popular for people to talk about their feelings, and it’s actually a fact. That’s something that got drained in the past five years. So that’s what I’m tryna do: make it popular to have feelings. I’m not a gangster.
What can we expect to be different about ICFM3 from Punk Goes Drill and the rest of the ICFM series?
Punk Goes Drill wasn’t even for my fans; it was strictly for the writers, the bloggers, the interviewers. We knew it would cause controversy. And all [the samples] on there is shit I bump to this very day. We still laugh about it. The only difference with this album is that I’m dedicating it to the people that’s actually been with me since ICFM1, the people that’s been in tune with me — seeing the growth, the struggles, the losses I took throughout the years. I’m not out here promoting xans; I’m just out here, and I’m sad. I’m just a normal human being, and I’m trying to show people they can do that.