HEwas’s introduction is starting to prove typical for a post-modern, post-commercialist world when it comes to indie music. The kind of anonymity the artist applies to himself by way of self-releasing his work feels like a thing of the past – back when paparazzi just had still cameras and famous celebrities could watch their work at the theatre off Sunset Boulevard. There’s no public campaign tailored to make him accessible to a wide audience, nor a set of executives or marketing people dictating his every move. Given how controlled the nature of celebrity has become, HEwas popping up out of nowhere on Spotify feels somewhat dangerous to the Hollywood norm – anarchistic, even.
Even more ‘anarchistic’ about HEwas’s current trajectory is the nature of his new song, purposefully stylized as ‘Wholething’. The stylization itself is typical of West Coast R&B marketing, the song without a doubt taking a page from the greats in that category such as Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and The Game to name a few. But while the music and composition of the song follows classic R&B guidelines to a tee, it’s belied by its topical and lyrical contents. Rap now has become what it always was controversially proclaimed to be – poetry, in a sense.
And with that has come a significant artistic freedom, said controversy shifting from the outside to the inside of the R&B community. What makes a proper rap song? What is off-limits if you really want to be a rap artist? Despite the old guard having strong opinions on the subject, the young are proving increasingly that the answer to said questions is anything. As a result, the genre is becoming normalized by way of artists singing and spitting bars about concepts more accessible to wider audiences outside the rap community, said old guard concerned the genre as a result may be losing its edge.
Whether such a predicament is or isn’t true is more or less irrelevant to HEwas’s debut single. However he seems to tip his hat to such sentiments with the inclusion of esteemed rapper Afroman featured on the track – the latter curbing HEwas’s soulful proclamations on love and complicated relationships with cold, darkly hilarious bars about shameless hedonism, philandering, crazy exes, and a decidedly free-spirited lifestyle in the fast lane. The song would be awfully cynical in some ways because of this if it weren’t for its lighthearted, somewhat stoner-vibed ambience. HEwas manipulates the track in such a way so it isn’t to be taken too seriously – much more something to laugh at with your friends in traffic than ruminate on the actual profundity of bad breakups.
The result is something that has both feet in both eras of rap. On the one hand, its irreverence and somewhat profane content make it have the edge, grit, and grime of the 90s, while HEwas’s juxtaposing vocals before Afroman’s proclamations solidify its standing simultaneously in a post-modern world. Rap is here to stay, and there will always be certain rules. But with artists like HEwas freely able to distribute their work across a wide medium, the decidedly egalitarian fashion seems to promise new and exciting twists previously unimaginable and not permitted.