Listen to: Heems, ‘Eat Pray Thug’

Listen to: Heems, ‘Eat Pray Thug’

Leigh MichaelMonday,16 March 2015

Heems, née Himanshu Kumar Suri,  just released his first studio album, Eat Pray Thug. The Queens-based rapper first came to fame as a member of Das Racist, then went on to create a number of solo mixtapes. This is his first foray into the studio world.

When challenged by his label to create a radio-friendly album, Heems tweeted, “Who the fuck you think you signed? I make post-9/11 dystopian brown man rap. Not very radio friendly.” Sounds about right.

You can purchase the album on Amazon or iTunes. (or listen for a limited time on NPR!)

“Sometimes” sets the stage for the album. Heems seamlessly flip-flops between snarky cynicism and cutting social commentary. The same theme continues with “So NY,” where Heems digs even further into the racial divisions that continue to divide the pulse of our biggest city: “I’m so New York, I still don’t bump 2Pac / Label executives, stay saying I’m too sharp/ All these women in my ears, stay saying I’m too smart / When I go to AA man, I always feel too dark.”

This isn’t an “easy” album. Well, I take that back. If you’re listening for powerful beats and some seriously aggressively rhymes, you’ve found a great album. But it makes you feel frustrated – and maybe that’s the point. Even if you don’t listen to a single syllable of the lyrics in each track, you’ll walk away feeling fired up and more than a little dejected about the state of the good ole US of A.

“Flag Shopping” exemplifies that. The lyrics paint a powerful portrait:

I pledge allegiance to the flag
Of the United States of America
We’re going flag shopping for American flags
They’re staring at our turbans
They’re calling them rags
They’re calling them towels
They’re calling them diapers

The NSA, drones, and federal agents all tie into the narrative on how Muslims experience a reality that “they lookin’ at us different” since the 9/11 attacks. It isn’t a warm an fuzzy feeling. And in many of parts of the country, it’s also an unjust stigma that Muslims have to deal with everyday.

Himanshu Kumar Suri’s first studio album will make you feel uncomfortable. And angry. And it’ll make you think. And if that’s what you want in an album (and I think , TSD readers, that you’re up for it), then you’ve found your match made in heaven for the month ahead.

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Hat Tips:

HeemsAmazoniTunesNPR, Grantland, Image Credit: Flickr

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