Bronx hip hopper HAHYEEM drops his debut project Silence. Composed of six tracks and a skit, the project features exclusively boom bap production. What I enjoy most are the honest, autobiographical details delivered in the lyrics. It’s not falsely braggadocios as so much hip hop is. Instead, we get a series of rather dejected, self-conscious admissions about the struggle of pursuing your dreams despite having the deck stacked against you. But, even while exploring harsh realities, we get a sense of hope.
“No Purpose,” for example, talks of the aimlessness any and all creatives feel at some, or potentially all, points in their careers: “Feel like I’m living in vein / I’m doing shit without a purpose.” Even so, the chorus finds HAHYEEM proudly toting his moniker. This feeling of purposelessness seems to be one introduced to HAHYEEM by his family.
HAHYEEM’s struggle to please both his parents and himself continues on “The Life I Chose” which finds him asserting his love for his mother as a sort of consolation for his decision to pursue music. Interestingly, a second narrative exists throughout the project playing off of this main one. His main rationalization for pursuing hip hop is that his other options are rather limited. Not wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps, he chooses to rap rather than try his luck on the streets. This provides a forum for HAHYEEM to speak on the injustices and inequalities that many are faced with.
As has come to be expected from champions of boom bap, “Missing The Game” calls out the new wave of rappers. I was going to gloss over this track, as it’s a sentiment that’s been beaten dead twice over, but HAHYEEM makes a noteworthy qualification. Unlike most making this type of music, he denies any desire to “revive” hip hop, whatever that means. He has no intention of bringing back the way it was, he just wants to express his admiration for what hip hop once was. I also appreciate the line “Don’t get me wrong, though, we always had whack emcees” because some try and claim commercial rap is new when really it’s almost as old as hip hop itself. He also rightly blames the radios and their listeners for excessively supporting the materialistic rapper.
After this brief departure from the main narrative, HAHYEEM returns to discussing how hip hop has provided an escape from the life he may otherwise lead. There is a particularly powerful verse on “Seasons” in which HAHYEEM tells of a time he visited his father in prison. It ends with the realization that, had his father been home, he never would have had the chance to rap, forced instead to help his father push. Check out Silence below and if you dig it be sure to follow HAHYEEM on social media outlets and / or support the project on Bandcamp.