HEwas and Afroman – “Wholething”

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Working what feels like a top-heavy synth pop track into an industrial but undeniably psychedelic-tinged rap song that could pass for club music might sound like a tall order for most artists, but for HEwas and Afroman, it would appear all too easy in their new collaborative single “Wholething.” Although steeped in much of the same scooped-EQ, adrenaline-lax conceptualism that has rocketed a number of new hybrid tracks into the spotlight this year, HEwas’ latest release doesn’t attempt to blend in with the crowd so much as it seems to deliver a commentary on it.

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True, extending an invitation to the likes of Afroman for a performance as skewed towards the alternative rock model as this one is can’t help but remind a critic in my peer group of similar collaborative experiments brought to life some fifteen years ago, but the framework is anything but old fashioned. From top to bottom, there are moments in which the stripped-down aesthetics beneath the hook in this song feel a little overly minimalist in style, but for the majority of listeners, I think the no-frills style hip-hop here will resonate particularly well amidst the overindulgence of many mainstream names in 2020.

A high quality bassline reinforces a beat like nothing else can, and this is an essential reason why I would say that “Wholething” often sounds like a rebellious response to some of the more contemporary concepts on what percussion in hip-hop and trap music should consist of. HEwas is getting straight funky with his thinking here, allowing for the bass parts to couple with the drums while stopping short of letting them define the tonal expressiveness of the instrumentation in general (a difficult task in any modern hip-hop release).

The chemistry between the marquee man and the legendary Afroman is stunning, with melodicism remaining their biggest focus as we go from one stanza to the next. Efficiency has always benefited the latter’s most well-rounded content, and it would appear this can be said for his protégé as well. Stylistically speaking, this was the right collaboration to break off for HEwas’ second official release, and I don’t think I’m going to be the only critic remarking as much.

I had heard a little about this player before listening to “Wholething” for the very first time over the Thanksgiving weekend shortly after it dropped online, but now that I’m getting a feel for his chops – particularly as they’re presented to us beside somebody as high-caliber as Afroman – he’ll be staying on my radar indefinitely. This is a solid introduction to his work for anyone who hasn’t already been spinning his material in the last few months, and from where I sit it’s teasing a potential that I would love to see him exploit to the fullest in a full-length studio album capacity. There’s no reason to wait when you’re operating on this sort of momentum, and for my money, HEwas has already shown us that he doesn’t hesitate when he’s in the brightest of lights.

Loretta Kim

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