Hip-hop has gotten to be very formulaic. Record label executives tend to gravitate towards the same mold–one that often prioritizes heteronormativity, sexualizes women, and glorifies substance abuse. Artists are often crafted, shaped, even defined by their reps–but Johnny Polygon is different.
“Before I started making music, I was very lonely ’cause I didn’t fit in any sort of box,” Polygon told Fusion. “Once I started making music, and I started releasing music, that’s when I really started to be accepted.”
Though the Oklahoma emcee has found comfort and acceptance on stage, he refuses to conform to the norm or limit his lyrics. Polygon isn’t afraid to tackles themes hip-hop often side-steps.
“I wanted to make a zombie video that wasn’t about zombies and a gay video that wasn’t about being gay,” Polygon said of his post-apocalyptic music video “Purple Mess.” “The homophobia in hip-hop… that’s something that definitely needs to be tackled.”
The up-and-coming rapper takes Fusion on a tour around downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, his hometown, and gives us a glimpse into a world he both loves and wants to change. He shares his passion for the music, his frustrations with the industry and sheds light on how the city molded him as both an artist and a person.
“I grew up in a place where the racial tension has been so real for me,” Polygon said. “I love where I’m from and it’s for that reason that I criticize it so harshly.”
He creates and critiques, expressing meaning in his music and breaking barriers in an industry that thrives on the status quo.
CREDIT: Ade Mangum