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Spin: Heems – Nehru Jackets


Reviewed Heems’ ridiculously great, Queens rap-indebted mixtape for SPIN. It was given the “essential” tag, which it totally deserves. There are a few words about Kool A.D.’s The Palm Wine Drinkard in there as well. Dunno, I feel like people are really underrating Nehru Jackets. Go back to it if you thought it was “too long” or whatever…

If you discovered hip-hop during the so-called Golden Age of the late-’80s/early-’90s, Queens still holds an almost mythic quality to this day. Which applies to both the rappers — bigger-than-life rogues like Nas, Mobb Deep, Kool G. Rap, Pharoahe Monch, and Capone-N-Noreaga — and the locale itself, which, if judged by the rhymes about stick-up kids and videos full of dudes standing around fire-belching trash cans, always seemed idyllic in its awful-ness.

The general definition of “Queens rap” came from that sort of thing, which means Nehru Jackets, an eccentric boom-bap mixtape from Queens residents Heems (a.k.a., Himanshu Suri of Das Racist) and producer Mike Finito, probably fails to qualify under such a strict rubric. But that’s a good thing. The off-the-cuff confidence of this free offering — presented by Queens-based nonprofit SEVA NY in support of their campaign against gerrymandering and redistricting — feels like a bleary-eyed character actor strolling through a big-budget crime flick, mucking up all that once-poignant, now-rote “authenticity.” It’s a reminder of what was actually charming about classic Queens rap: Behind the rugged-and-raw signifying, there were weird personalities and a palpable sense of community…

Written by Brandon

February 3rd, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Posted in Spin

2 Responses to 'Spin: Heems – Nehru Jackets'

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  1. Completely agree. It’s fun to pick out Heems’ riffs on other rap lyrics, like the Cam’ron “holy moly” bit on “I Want it Bad.”

    Your link is broken, though. Try this:

    Defend Tiller

    5 Feb 12 at 9:18 pm

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    9 Jun 12 at 4:47 pm

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