Heems

Eat Pray Thug

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The kids may not know it, but Bobby McFerrin was only considered a serious jazz man before his megahit "Don't Worry Be Happy" became everyone's mom's favorite. As Heems rolled up to his debut, the McFerrin-esque pop albatross that hung around this alt-rapper's neck was his former crew Das Racist, more specifically "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell," a fun, quirky jam like "Sandwiches" (Detroit Grand Pubahs) which, for most listeners, banished the group to the land of never being taken seriously again. Fans of the tune should still check Eat Pray Thug, as the title displays that same slick and quick sense of humor, but just a bit into the opener "Sometimes" ("Sometimes I'm sober, Sometimes I pass a fifth"), an instrumental breakdown sparks the solo rapper's own breakdown ("How do I live my life, when my life is all dualities?" and "I'm so confused, I could use some more clarity") because irony is much more than just humor to this complicated artist. It shows up again when the Punjabi-American (or "the Hindu Spike Lee!" as he says) drops "Had to leave my home cuz they kept callin' me Osama" ("So NY") and listeners laugh so they don't cry at how stupid the world can be. Still, that elevated song comes with a reference to The Sopranos that's right out of the T.I. playbook, and if there's a Mensa Radio that airs a pillow talk program on Saturday nights, their playlist would feature the intelligent R&B numbers "Damn, Girl" and "Home," with special guest Dev Hynes. Wiping away any "novelty" accusations for good, "Al Q8a," Suicide by Cop," and "Patriot Act" live up to their provocative titles, dropping punch lines even Bill Maher would deem "risky," but those who disagree with the man's bullshit detector will have to give it up on his wordplay and layered arguments. Such uncompromising rhymes means Eat Pray Thug falls firmly in the category of "ain't for everybody," but that's the thrilling bit, as everything else about the album is alluring, from music that sounds like D' Angelo jamming with Kraftwerk, to the line "I know I get so low, but I'm my best with you," which nominates itself for Cozy Come-On of the Year during the great track "Pop Song (Games)."

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