If you’ve listened to rap music for the past 15 years or so you’ll know that the criteria and qualities we attribute to the genre has dramatically changed, almost on an annual basis. You’ll also know that under the rap umbrella, there are countless genres with respective sub-genres. Okay, that being said, when listening to Hazardous Wastes aka H.W. I struggled to find a genre I could neatly place him in. Off the bat the Boston-based emcee starts his latest album with an emotionally laced narrative over a classic serenity beat, so I think emo-rap, right? A couple of tracks later on “Brutally Beautiful” H.W. spits another impassioned monologue about love and its inevitable crossing with ugliness. I’m a fan of the beat, a haunting vocal sample with the highly talented Emoh Betta providing some well placed cuts, this is a good hip hop track, and I’m still thinking emo-rapper. Ah, the next track, “Hello Stranger”, is a journey down relationship memory lane (Melissa is it?), H.W. rides a whip-friendly cruising track, not sure why but this reminded me of SkyZoo, more dope cuts from EB. Okay, so that’s pretty much the first half of the album, and I’m inundated with emotions, so why the discomfort with placing him in said genre? Well, I looked up the definition for “emo-rap” online and found this: “For rappers, ‘Emo’tions are a vulnerability in the armor of dominance.”
See, after listening to this album I can tell you H.W. puts his vulnerability out there, manifested through his emotions. However, there is no chink in any armor here, this is what his music is about, in life we struggle, we overcome, we evolve. That’s what this album is about, and that’s why I’m more comfortable calling him an emcee than a “something” rapper. His wordplay on the album is witty enough to catch yourself smiling to yourself a few times, and his passion is inspiring at the very least. He shows a lot of pride for his hometown Boston on the last track “This Old Town”, specifically expressing his undying commitment to not simply disembark from it. He successfully connects the listener to that experience, making it a bit of a small town anthem for that proverbial kid rapping in front of his computer thinking about how much better other cities may be.
Overall, this 7 track album is not going to redefine your relationship with any genre nor will it sound like nothing you’ve ever heard before, there is familiarity here, this is still vintage hip hop. But it will introduce to an intelligent wordsmith with a life that he doesn’t mind genuinely sharing with you, that’s worth the listen alone.
As far as purchasing goes, H.W. has smartly packaged the download with a product bundle, for $17 you get a shirt of a typewriter with lyrics from the song Faded Memories, along with a 11×17 Poster designed by Hyphenate (Hyphenate.me). The poster is actually pretty dope, and you can check EB modelling the shirt on the Bandcamp.
Follow the wherabouts of Josh aka HW on Twitter, @joshhw.