“I randomly asked Siri what was the No. 1 song in the world,” remembers Polo G’s “mom” Stacia Mac. It was a conversation she was happy to have. “She said, ‘Rapstar’! I was so proud of my son at that time!
Bringing “Rapstar” to the top of the world charts in 2021 has been a family affair from the start. “We spoke internally as a family,” notes Mac. “Together we decided that Polo’s album launch strategy should lead with the release of the single“ Rapstar. ”The label wanted another song for the first single, but we held on. We appreciate their ideas and everything. what they do, but we know the fan base – we knew what they wanted to hear.
As such, in her managerial role, Mac found herself 24/7 once the ingenious “Rapstar” leak and snippet campaign sparked a social media sensation. “We saw all of the views and decided to go all out,” says Mac, who yearns for the tycoon herself. “Inclusive engagement across all platforms had to be properly deployed. It was really important. We found it really played with the strengths of TikTok, and the song went viral crazy there. You could immediately see the impact in week one, with ‘Rapstar’ entering the charts at # 1, and it just kept skyrocketing.
After his son’s triumphs, Mac went from a career as a property manager in Chicago to starting his own business, ODA Management. At ODA, she directs the careers of Polo G, her sister Leilani and dancehall star China Doll; At the same time, Mac is developing new artists, having forged a new partnership with Geffen, House of Legends – while also expanding into creating podcasts alongside seminars and industry events (she is launching her first workshop “Industry Cheat Code” in Atlanta in December 5).
“Coming from Chicago gives you a ride like no other,” says Mac. “Seriously, this is the secret sauce. Living there, that turmoil is ingrained right inside of you. If you can do it there, you can do it anywhere. Once you’ve learned the streets of Chicago, trust me, you’ll be able to maneuver in any boardroom. “
VARIETY: When did you know you and Polo had a hit on the hands with “Rapstar”?
MAC: I have always had a good ear. Of [Polo G’s 2019 hit] “Pop Out” on, I was able to predict which of her songs would have the most impact – and I always knew “Rapstar” was one of them.
How did you pivot into the song’s unique marketing rollout based on a slow drip of teased snippets and nifty social media leaks?
Funny – when Polo has a hit, he likes to sit on it. I don’t know why, but it does! So he finally brought me the song, and it immediately went viral all over the place. He was floating around on social media with millions of views. Seeing these metrics, I was like, “You have to release this song – you’ve been sitting on it long enough. And it was one of our best deployments – an instant success. I mean, there aren’t many songs or artists that have ever had the kind of first week numbers that “Rapstar” amassed.
“Rapstar” memorable exploded on TikTok. How has Polo’s social strategy evolved in this process?
He was the strongest on YouTube. Polo had his biggest presence there; this is where most of his fans lived, so he always included a strong YouTube component early in his deployments. Polo also sometimes dropped things he was working on and testing the waters with. Depending on how successful they were, some of his stuff on YouTube would turn into songs that he would end up releasing on DSPs, or he would just leave them on his channel. So he did it with “Rapstar” too – and yes, it got crazy. The rest is history.
With “Rapstar”, it seemed like pretty much every line became a meme.
It is not a coincidence. We also see this data, because this is how Polo structures their songs. We leave nothing to chance. Everything we do with Polo’s career is highly strategic. Thus, Polo ensures in his songwriting process that, bar for bar, he does not put words at random. There’s no dead space: he knows the hook is important – but it also needs to be captioned, quoteable, able to tweet, GIF. Each line should be memorable enough that someone wants to use it as a caption, hashtag, or meme.
So from your perspective, what was the tipping point for “Rapstar” – the social media moment, a key sync, an addition to the radio or a specific playlist / platform that amplified the record? ?
Our social media strategy worked because it really was about the fans. Sure, the playlist played a role, but it was the main fan base upping streams and downloads; the fans who are just starting their own social media movement have proven to be the most crucial part of the rollout. So we made and executed plans for maximum fan engagement literally every day until “Rapstar” fell – and it worked. After all that, we knew that the day the song came out, it was going to go crazy like this. By doing the release properly, fans were receptive as it turned into something they were really waiting for – and already having a conversation around.
What do you think attracted listeners to “Rapstar”? Was that the chorus? Rhythm? Words? The hook? The melody? The message?
It is the personal aspect that always attracts people to his songs. He does it in such a subtle and very relevant way. Polo has fought some shit and been through some things, and he knows that all of these brilliant things that he’s gotten through his success mean nothing until he heals himself. This relativity for me is what drives his songs forward. His storytelling takes you on a ride where you can see and feel all he is feeling and you can relate to it in real time.
In the course of “Rapstar”, what has been your proudest moment, personally, in terms of contribution?
My son had the No. 1 song in the world two weeks in a row! That was it, especially me supporting this piece when others doubted it – you know, “We don’t think that’s the song.” It was gratifying. Never doubt your instincts. Go ahead and stick with what works for you – not what other people think.
TikTok was where many first encountered “Rapstar”. Where else do you think the discovery of music is happening these days?
I see a big impact from game placements. The game has clearly increased our downloads and streams.
Is there anyone else you’d like to shout out for helping make “Rapstar” the phenomenon it was?
It’s definitely a group effort with Polo. His core team certainly couldn’t do it without our label publicist, Mike Navarra. Mike is instrumental in ensuring that Polo gets the publicity he needs, when he needs it: once we push something, Mike says, “Okay, I’m going to spread this everywhere. I tell people all the time, if you’re in Times Square when the ball falls and nobody knows it, then that hasn’t happened. Mike succeeds. And the radio team have been great in deploying us and our entire Columbia / Sony family properly as well. Of course, Steve “Steve-O” Carless, my co-management partner, is always there to support our pieces. Polo’s older sister, Leilani, and the rest of our immediate family have also been instrumental in our success. I wish I could take all the credit, but I’m lucky to have an amazing team.
In the wake of the “Rapstar” phenomenon, have you worked with any new artists, songwriters or producers this year who really impressed you?
I am delighted to work with my daughter, Leilani. Seeing her dedication and seeing where she will be in a year is exciting. I just love to see the way my kids are growing up.