Ahhhh, white rap: you either love it, or you hate it. If you want my personal opinion, hate is too strong a word, but despite the fact that I myself am a white guy, I have never been a huge fan. Don’t get me wrong, its not that I don’t recognize the incredible talents of Eminem, Slug, or The Beastie Boys, it’s just that a lot of white rap falls into one of two stereotypes. On the one hand you have the gimmicks: Vanilla Ice and Asher Roth, who want you to know that they may be white but they’re still cool and can pick up all the fly honeys yo. Then on the other hand you have Slug, Aesop Rock, and even Eminem who are depressed, hate themselves, and vulnerable, and thus somehow we are supposed to love them deeply. It’s not that I don’t think that there is plenty of room for both of these types of rap; if you are a fan of either, by no means should you ever feel embarrassed, be proud. Music speaks to everyone differently. Yet for me personally, I hate trends and gimmicks, and if you don’t love yourself, it’s pretty hard for me to come up with a reason why I should love you instead, especially if I have never met you. To take it one step further, it’s even harder to imagine why I should spend money on you, especially for a show where you are gonna stand stiff as a brick while you play depressing songs that if I actually pay attention, will make me hate life and want to drive my car at full speed into a brick wall. The image of Cage screaming “Teen Age Death!!!!!!!” to start his show at the first Paid Dues festival, will forever go down as one of the stupidest concert moments I have experienced. At the same time, to show you that I am not a complete hater, I must admit, that around the time that I discovered that blunts, cars, and loud music was an absolutely incredible combination, one of the homey’s had stumbled across Atmosphere’s, God Loves Ugly. Although I haven’t listened to it in at least half a decade, it definitely got consistent spins for about a year. Just hearing “Shrapnel” takes me back in time, to where I can almost smell the Bud Lights and Swisher Sweets in the back of the homey’s Ford Focus. Oh yeah Grouch and Eligh are the business as well.
Anyways, to get to the real subject of this article, Hazardous Wastes is an MC out of Boston, which over time seems to be ZIF’s favorite underdog city. Until this weekend, I had never heard a song of his, a feature, or even his name, but Jake told me that he liked the album and wanted me to review it. Being that Jake’s ear for music is almost always reliable, and listening to brand new albums completely ignorant of what I am about to get myself into is without a doubt one of my favorite past times, giving Hazardous Wastes a shot was a no brainer.
My Happy Song
A Year’s Worth Of Worry, was released for free (click the cover to download) in December of 09’, and judging from his website, it is H.W.’s second studio album. Within the first 15 seconds of, “Shithead”, the first song of the project, the listener knows that they are about to enter a world of self deprecation. If it wasn’t the sparse and eerie piano line, then it had to be the textbook mopey rapper intro, where H.W. let’s the listeners know that “This song is dedicated to inebriated women, [and] depression”. Although I would eventually warm up a little bit to H.W. as the album continued, and I think the beat by Mac Lethal is dope, starting off with a song about turning down women, that H.W. himself calls gorgeous, for the sheer fact that they are drunk and don’t want to spend the rest of their lives with him, was far from a great first impression. I mean I’m single, and a slew of beautiful women allergic to clothes, wanting nothing more than to spend time with you, whether they are shit in the bed drunk or not, does not seem like something worthy to cry in your beer about. While on that track I may disagree with his reason for being sad, at least he gave a reason. Unfortunately, during the majority of the album, H.W. raps about being depressed, without really letting the listener know what he is actually depressed about. Combined with the excessive amount of treble in his voice, this is one of my only real complaints about Hazardous Wastes. On “Happy Song”, Hazardous claims that his DJ thinks he’s the “saddest motherfucker he’s ever met”, and on numerous occasions throughout the album he speaks on his desire to kill himself, but he never gets close to why he feels this way. On the one hand it’s possible to tell an incredibly compelling story about family troubles, the loss of friends, mental illness, being broke, girlfriends cheating on you, and run ins with the law, and how all of those factors can wear someone down so that they feel like they are completely insignificant. Yet if you’re sad and depressed, just for the sake of being sad and depressed, I know a tremendous amount of people feel that way, but musically, it’s just not that interesting as a listener.
On the other hand, despite my lack of interest in his subject matter, H.W. is mos def proficient with words. He’s not one to blow you away with unheard of rhyme patterns, but he does show a strong level of comfort spitting over each track, and the rhymes themselves utilize some real vocab. I also appreciate the fact that on a few occasions Hazardous Wastes isn’t afraid to prove his credentials as an MC by rhyming one long ass verse over the entire instrumental. It’s actually something I wish all rappers did more often, because It’s a way for them to say fuck a hook, this is why you should actually like ME as a rapper. It’s kinda like guitar solos. Angus Young could have written all the simple and catchy, classic AC/DC riffs in the world, but if he didn’t have the ability to just go off on the solo tip, he would have never been considered a legend of the instrument. Also, H.W. isn’t afraid to experiment with his delivery either, as he shows on “The End Of The Line”. The song is a view into the minds of the various members of a dysfunctional family, and H.W.’s way of starting and stopping his flow by yelling a phrase or question is really successful.
The other thing that Hazardous Wastes deserves positive recognition for is his ability to put together a logical and complete finished project. The album consists of 12 songs, and it’s 35 minutes long, which happens to probably be my favorite length for a hip-hop record. Additionally, despite the fact that he employs 8 producers over these 12 songs, he chose a group of strong beats that are diverse enough to keep the listener guessing what they are gonna get from track to track, yet somehow manage to maintain a cohesive feel throughout the entire project. While the majority of the instrumentals are introspective, the strong jazz influence gives the album a smooth, laid back and cool sound as well, which is exemplified in “Rough Roads, Fun Times” and my favorite beat other than the one jacked from Exile, “A Day In The Life”.
A Day In The Life
If you are a fan of raps full of feelings of alienation from the rest of the world, than this album is definitely up your ally. It’s got good quality instrumentals, and Hazardous Wastes fits really well and holds his own in that genre. I don’t imagine any Atmosphere fans tearing down their posters of Slug from their walls, and replacing it with H.W.’s mug, lip ring and all, but after listening to this project I could definitely imagine them being impressed enough to follow Hazardous Wastes’ career with some serious dedication. Yet for me personally, I think H.W. is a talented MC who most likely will get better with time, he just works with a sub genre of hip-hop that I find myself having a hard time getting in to.