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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Rapper Joel Polanco strives for the spotlight

PC Heather
Joel Polanco, above, performed at last year’s Roth Regatta. This was his first performance on campus. His music sends messages of positivity and strength. HEATHER KHALIFA/THE STATESMAN

Rapper, singer and songwriter Joel Polanco is striving for fame, one flyer at a time.

Drowning out the world, Polanco engulfs himself in the rap music coming from the Beats by Dre headphones worn on his head like a crown.

You may have seen Polanco around campus telling people about his music or performing at last year’s Roth Regatta.

Stony Brook is his starting line. Polanco hopes to rise through doubt to reach the height of what he calls his motto, “Excellence.”

“Think of ‘excellence’ as this mystical place where you can believe in something and push for change and a prosperous future,” Polanco said. “Everyone who is willing to join this movement, they’re strivers.”

His message is embodied in his music. Polanco pushes for change through his lyrics and looks to better the mindsets of those who have lost the will to believe in themselves. The 21-year-old artist from inner-city Harlem said rising above how people generalize others and their expectations of them is what excellence is all about. He is the first person in his tight-knit family to go to college and looks to set an example for his three younger siblings.

Polanco’s song “Rise,” which encompasses his message of “excellence,” got last year’s Roth Regatta audience raving at his first-ever performance. Polanco remembered being a little nervous, but described it as a good nervous, the kind that makes him want to go out and do it again. He called the event a stepping stone for bigger and better things beyond Stony Brook. He is what he calls a “striver,” and pushes his audience to be the same.

Polanco reflects on women striving for excellence in his music, which can be heard in his song “Home,” available on SoundCloud. The song was written for his two younger sisters. He wanted to inspire all women in the world to never give up on their dreams and goals. Family and tradition plays a huge role in Polanco’s life and upbringing.

He said his Dominican culture has given him the “spice” he has. He credits his family for his values and persistence in achieving his goals.

“It’s the root of all things,” Polanco said. “After everything, what stands is family.”

Family values and traditions inspired his song “Bring it Back,” one of his three songs released on SoundCloud. “Bring it Back” is about going back to those good old-fashioned values we seem to forget about in this hectic world.

Besides being a musician, Polanco is a member of the men’s rugby team. He travels around the country with the team and says they all love and support his music. Fellow rugby player Shane Wend described Polanco’s music as uplifting and inspirational.

The senior biology major described Polanco’s music as having a “smooth flow with refreshing lyrics.”

Polanco plans to release new music in the near future that plays upon his initial theme of “excellence,” and said it is a motto to believe in.

“Like when we were kids and we believed in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny,” Polanco said, “Why can’t we believe in excellence?”

Fans can follow his Instagram, “s7rive,” for a look into Polanco’s life.

Featured image credit: William Nuñez




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