This week, as a follow-up to the earlier mixtape Nehru Jackets Das Racist member Himanshu Suri – aka Heems – drops a new free-to-download collection in the shape of Wild Water Kingdom. The indie-rap pop-culture encyclopedic mind can’t contain it’s prolific energies, and the result is a sprawling seventeen tracks of cross-referencing rhymes and fluid beats.
As with Nehru Jackets this mix is a step into more serious territory for Heems as a solo artist. Of course Das Racist are a serious outfit, but here there is a sense of deeper reflection and personal sincerities, higher in caliber than the usually broad, sociological swipes. From a rapper who claims to be raised by TV - the result of both parents working two jobs – the acquired wisdom is broad and sometimes rhymes employ a channel-surfing approach to continuity. These expressions belong together in this time, but relativity is not always obvious.
Despite the breadth of vision on display there are moments of patience “Deepak Choppa” is a cutting glance at guru-ism, the perception of westerners, and the romanticism of spirituality. “Water, water, water, water, water!” lyrically drips over fires of the disco inferno, whilst instrumentally synthesized bubbles make their noise, bouncing against the beat. The undercurrent is an unpleasant verse, threatening to deport those with unusual ideas, unusual skin colors, unusual names.
Opening track “WWK Intro” offers up the surrealism that fans of Heems and usual company will devour. Wild Water Kingdom sounds like a superficially inviting theme park, there are bewitching echoes over the surface of the verse, laced in by B. Official's easy production work. However, there’s darkness here too, beneath the waves of easy beats a thirst is building. This is a dreamlike passage which opens out ahead of all following tracks. Water, in all of it’s forms is splashed about, taking the shape of some containers, denying the laws of others. It’s an abundant metaphor that offers and removes life.
Other guesting producers include Harry Fraud, Keyboard Kid, Crookers, Beautiful Lou, LE1F, Shaleik, Mike Finito, and Lushlife – and the sedimentary feel of layers settling ontop of layers is very real. Things just seem to get a little heavier toward the bottom of the mix. “Combat Jack Show Freestyle” closing the collection has a well-rounded bass, a stabbed piano, a twisted synth, scratched vinyl and a wonderful freestyle assault on the corruption of the American Dream.
“Cowabunga Gnarly” is a standout moment. It’s an easy shoulder-dropping track that sounds like an extension of summer. Again, like the rest of the mix, the key to the magic is the multi-layering of textures. Vocally Heems allows a raspier than usual flow, an angelic choir is looped in, and an almost demonic sample drops off the scale. All of this occurs on an Jamaican flavored tempo, as friends’ integrity is questioned, the surrendering of cash to mother, the concerns individual loss and gain – a boastful swagger, but also a sense that Heems knows he’s susceptible to exaggeration, and that he may be lost in his own tidal wave.
Wild Water Kingdom is a smart release. It’s an engaging collection of tempers, all riding on the broader concept. As mixtapes go it’s a complete vision that expands on what is usually achieved. As yet another free download from Heems this is a collection that further underlines the generosity of the artist’s spirit.
Standout Tracks: “Cowabunga Gnarly”, “Combat Jack Show Freestyle”, “Killing Time”
For Fans Of: Das Racist, Darwin Deez