Reviews

Gig Review: Heems

December 2nd 2012, was a sad day for hip hop music. The dynamic, ironic, yet lyrically fantastic rap group that was Das Racist unceremoniously called it quits, with a series of mystical tweets raising question as to the relationships within the group and the future of Das Racist itself. That was it, no more witticisms from this Queens based trio, no more fast food raps that were so vivid you could practically taste the stuffed crust and Doritos Locos of the respective Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Done, dusted, the Rainbow in the Dark of comedic yet insightful rap had faded, so it seemed.

Fast forward five months and much has changed in the lives of former Das Racist members, Heems and Kool AD, both are fresh off the release of solo mixtapes with Heems’ Wild Water Kingdom and Kool AD’s 19 and 63 yet there is still no sign of reuniting. Tonight, in Birthdays , East London’s new club du jour, situated in the heart of Dalston, the crowd is eager to catch a glimpse of their hero. It’s not exactly a hard task, with Heems chilling by the bar and rushing through the crowd, to the sound of the warm up DJ’s Trap heavy set, as he prepares for his intimate comeback to the UK.

As soon as he steps on the stage, Heems is electric with energy, not much has changed in that respect, he’s running around playing the joker, screaming through the monitors and distorting his voice, it feels like the good old Das Racist days again. But let’s not get sidetracked with nostalgia, this is a new artistic venture for the young Himanshu Suri, and it’s impressive to say the least. Heems is that rare kind of live rapper, maintaining effortless flow whilst performing live, whilst still bringing a sparsely seen sense of showmanship. This is not just a rap concert, it’s above that, this is a performance in itself. Being at the front of the venue, I feel like I’m re-acquainted with an old friend as I’m regularly offered fruit and Doritos from the hands of Heems. Musically it’s a varied affair, this is not a greatest hits concert, and I’d be stupid for assuming it was, but Heems delivers what the masses want with impressive solo renditions of Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell and Michael Jackson, amongst other Das Racist hits. Despite digging up some of the DR classics, it’s the solo work that shines through. Womyn is met to euphoria from the crowd and there’s even a Frank Ocean Forrest Gump cover yet its Heems’ more politically orientated work that is the most fascinating with “Soup Boys” really standing out.

So what of my first take on Heems as a solo act? The music was tight, the crowd interaction went above and beyond the standoffish nature of many modern Hip Hop shows, and this made for a winning combination. Heems was both casual and chilled in his attitude yet professional when it came to showmanship, funny yet political, nostalgic of the old DR days, yet forward thinking. And it’s this mastering of such polar opposites in his raps, delivery and works that keeps his loyal fans wanting more.

Words: Charlie Jaco

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