With blood on the Basquiat’s, pistols and MAC’s hidden around multiple safehouses in Buffalo, NY, and a Chanel ski mask to dawn the cover, Westside Gunn on Hitler Wears Hermes II is a grimy but fly god. He steps from the shadows not ready to rob but to instead enact the representation of orchestrating a New York mind state that twists something deeper than rap.
The focus of fashion and wrestling are often repeated motifs in Westside Gunn’s sound that has now become instantly recognizable when paired with the production of Daringer, Camoflauge Monk, and J57 that format the instrumentation of the record. As for features, Griselda member Conway The Machine pulls up alongside Keisha Plum, High Fashion P, and Tionna D. Together as a unit, Hitler Wears Hermes II can strike through nine tracks in 24 minutes and create a balance of brains and Berettas.
Pulling back the controversial curtains with “Big L & Half A Mil,” Westside Gunn is immediately transported through the 70s with instrumentation that relies on slowed, authentic percussion and a looped guitar that is dusty but hits like a crisp vinyl. The vocals here are a stream of consciousness coming directly from the iconic-voiced Westside Gunn as he describes, “And my shit the bomb diggy, Fendi strap on the SK, who can F with me. All gator strap back, relax, Supreme hoodie, couple niggas with me got the MAC, facts. SB Dunks, Dior gloves with the pump out. I want my money now or your brains get blown the fuck out.” He is violent, but charismatic and never seems to drop this theatrical style that proceeds through his Hitler Wears Hermes saga.
On a later track, “Eggz” is one of the shortest pieces on the record, but Westside Gunn packs a digestible amount of verse into the minute and 40 seconds before the piece uses scratch techniques to bring an outro. He begins by stating, “Muzzle on the baby TEC, you can hear the bullets whisper. My pockets got more sharks than the Shine State, New York Mind state, check the Buffalo crime rate.” No matter what is said, Westside Gunn is able to make the listener feel 20-feet tall as a giant that can stand against any pressing matter with newfound confidence.
When he reaches the end of Hitler Wears Hermes II, Westside Gunn uses the final track “Salute” as a sendoff into the future with a roll call of past deaths or lock-ups seen in his lifetime. While he is not political, his speech carries weight and for the millions who are outside of the Griselda ranks, they are beginning to perhaps, only be seen as the most impressive spectacle of hip-hop power.