Album Review — 26 January 2012

By Ahmad Awadallah

After one-third of Das Racist, Kool A.D., dropped his wildly mediocre mixtape Palm Wine Drinkard, it was unclear whether Heems would be able to deliver the goods as a solo act. Well, the verdict is in and even though his new mixtape, Nehru Jackets, packs some heat and is eons better than A.D.’s, the youngings prove that they’re not solid soloists. There are a slew of guest features that really propel this mixtape from pedestrian to popping.

The 25-track tape gets off to a slow start with “Thug Handles” with some muffled production and Himanshu’s off-beat flow.  Nevertheless, true Das Racists fans would appreciate his humorous food reference bars. “I’m just kicking it/Crown Fried Chicken it/finger looking good/so my finger I be licking it/KFC, but Kennedy,” are just some of the munchies-inspired rhymes packed into this extremely brief track. On “Bad, Bad, Bad” Suri get a little more serious and show his political and sociological colors, but still manages to sneak in some drollness. The Brooklyn emcee opts to use an indolent flow, which complements the soulful sample flawlessly.  The wittiness is in full affect with bars like, “If you wear a turban you can’t be cop/but you can shoot one/I want to make a movie/but I can never afford the things you need to shoot one” and “I never like rapping/but decided I’ll try harder/shot the cover of the Spin and tried Prada.”

Suri takes more shots at the Police—particularly the NYPD—on “NYC” cops. The production seems out of sorts with its hard-hitting drums and occasional samples, but as the track progresses it grows on you. Heems paints a vivid picture of NYPD’s racist brutality, including the murders of Amadou Diallo and Sean Bell, the ruthless assault on Abner Louima and many more war stories. It goes hard to say the least.

“Bangles” features Houston rhyme-slingers Fat Tony and Big Baby Gandhi and is one of the many tracks with Indian-infused production. The production on “Bangles” comes off the best as R&B samples are meshed well with kanjira—South Indian tambourine—chimes. All three rappers hold it down for Greenhead Music by commanding the mic and squeezing the life out this beat. Heems and Action Bronson go hard on the gritty “Yo What’s Good New York” and it also features a lukewarm verse from Suri’s partner in rhyme Kool A.D. “You Have To Ride The Wave” features Detroit’s Danny Brown and even though they both tear it down, Mr. Muthafuckin Exquire rip it apart. He shifts this track into 5th gear and probably has the best flow and most entertaining verse on the whole tape, surprisingly. You will definitely find yourself bringing his verse back a few times.

It’s no surprise that Heems is the better rapper in Das Racist and it’s evident by the release of their solo works. Kool’s effort was more experimental whereas Heems’s was a lot more cohesive, but ultimately their works were far from classics and they lacked that fluidity that they possess as a duo. Perhaps as they grow as a group, they’ll be better prepared to release better solo opuses; that are not racist, but real talk.


black-thumbs-up black-thumbs-upblack-thumbs-upblack-thumbshalf3.5 Out of 5


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