You know a song is catchy when you’re singing along without knowing any of the words.
That’s the case with most of Atlanta-raised rapper Pollàri’s new mixtape, lil llari galaxy, an extraterrestrial experiment of DayGlo synths and warped, Auto-Tuned vocal melodies that somehow escape comprehension but are sure to get stuck somewhere in your brain.
If you haven’t heard of Pollàri, you’d be forgiven — the rapper has toiled somewhere in SoundCloud rap’s middle class for a couple of years, bolstered by collaborations with some of internet trap’s biggest names (Lil Yachty, Lil Peep) yet never exploding onto their level. In fact, much of Pollàri’s music is obscured from casual listeners behind layers and layers of sometimes unlistenable Auto-Tune. Imagine the most extreme T-Pain track and crank it to 11 — that’s your average Pollàri song.
But if you can listen beyond the robotic, sometimes shrill vocals, Pollàri offers his fans some of internet trap’s catchiest songs and sharpest songwriting. The lead single off lil llari galaxy, “Diamonds!” (feat. Lil Yachty), is a playful romp through trap tropes — Fendi bags, bad bitches and, naturally, diamonds. But if those tired rap trends aren’t your thing, it barely matters. Yachty and Pollàri deliver a hook you’ll be humming for weeks without ever understanding a single word — save for mayyyybe “diamonds.”
And that’s a testament to Pollàri’s songwriting ability — I’ve been listening to the mixtape’s last song, the brilliantly titled “Lil Elroy Jetson,” for weeks and singing it out loud for just as long — but only in the past few days did I learn what I was singing. And while “Balling for fun/ Hot like the sun” doesn’t put Lil Llari on the same level as Kendrick Lamar in furthering rap’s literary standing, it’s a fun, clever hook that you can sing aloud for days on end.
Thanks to the inane raps of SoundCloud rappers like Lil Pump and Famous Dex, you occasionally hear comments about rap’s current “post-lyrical” state. But outside of Young Thug’s brilliant crooning, few rappers have shown that relying less on lyrics can be a good thing. Pollàri stands as an exception in the internet scene — his songs are fun, hooky and unexpectedly fleshed out (“**feel alive**/3200Lovestory” is a genuinely well-developed, pretty ballad), and almost always enjoyable, regardless of their lyrical content.
Even if lil llari galaxy is five songs too long and occasionally more stupid than simple (see the repetitive raps on “Earth, Earth !” and “Tiger Woods,”) it’s still an impressive experiment in melodic rap and virtually lyricless pop music. These are songs that get better with each listen, and when Pollàri’s nasaly, computerized serenades get lodged in your intoxicated mind, you’ll find lil llari galaxy miraculously stuck on repeat.