Heems releases ‘Eat Pray Thug’

Former one-third of Das Racist and Queens native Heems has released his first official solo album, “Eat Pray Thug.” The album follows 2012’s well-received mixtapes “Nehru Jackets” and “Wild Water Kingdom.”

While New York City shows up all over “Eat Pray Thug,” it was recorded largely in Mumbai, and Heems’ time away from five boroughs heavily informed the album. In an interview with Spin, he described how his experience in India allowed him to think of himself “outside the context of the American race.” He said: “I stopped being the Indian guy in the room. Everyone was Indian, so it became about who you are and what you’re into.”

America, race, and identity are themes the rapper is no stranger to exploring. They are central throughout the album, and Heems approaches them with characteristic complexity. On “So NY,” his home is intrinsic and innate (“I’m so New York, I still don’t bump Tupac”), as well as alienating (“Had to leave Williamsburg and all the white drama / Had to leave home, they kept calling me Osama / Had to leave home ’cause of drones and Obama.”) “Sometimes,” the first single off the album, addresses his inherent dualities directly (“Sometimes I like chicks / Sometimes it’s politics”), and while he admits these dichotomies can be confusing, he ultimately embraces them: “I should care, but won’t / I’m too rock, I’m too rap / I won’t change, I’m dope.”

For an artist who came up in a group known for their sharp (if often goofy) satire, there’s surprisingly little in terms of humor on “Eat Pray Thug.” And while many of the topics addressed are large in scope, Heems has said the album is “the most personal work I’ve ever done.” That’s evident on tracks like “Home,” which describes an intense and dysfunctional relationship while also alluding to his own substance abuse: “Company love misery / You with him while you telling me you wish it’s me / You addicted to the H-Man / I’m addicted to the H, man.”

Heems’ first official solo effort is a rich, deep album that can quickly change from sobering to surprisingly sweet (the jarring transition between “Flag Shopping” and “Pop Songs” seems designed to highlight the multitudes contained within both the art and the artist). Let’s hope this album is the first of many.

“Eat Pray Thug” is out now on Megaforce Records.

[Spin | NYT]