Heems – Eat, Pray, Thug
Known for his wily mix of social criticism with silly referential humour as part of defunct rap outfit Das Racist, Himanshu Suri manages to crack the odd joke on his debut solo effort but it's clear he has very little to smile about. Dealing with the aftermath of a messy break-up and his experience growing up amid the heightened racial paranoia of post-9/11 NYC, the laughs on Thug are the strained, bewildered sort to which one resorts in utterly hopeless situations.
Departing from the disaffected ironic distance of his previous output, Thug marks a change in tone that Heems' slovenly vocal style is well suited to deliver, imbuing dour scenes from his past (“and from then on they called us all Osama”) with a wrenching sense of woe. His political material far outshines the comparatively blunt relationship post-mortems but both are buoyed by an idiosyncratic, Bollywood-inflected production which, along with Heems' affable character, shines throughout. [Andrew Gordon]