New Music – X


After a lengthy introduction from A.A. Rashid, the chapter of Hitler Wears Hermes appears to come to a full complete cycle on the release of 10, the cohesive final entry in the diary of the devil.

Westside Gunn who is comparative to the generation’s musical Andy Warhol, a competitive composer of art, music, and clothing; the renaissance style becomes inspirational through the pen, paint, or pad.

10 has moments of new life to Westside Gunn’s repertoire, introducing a more trap style with rattling hi-hats and 808s not seen in the rapper’s typical bounce. Westside Gunn’s son produced the beat under the name FlyGod Jr and the track follows the same name, “FlyGod Jr.”

DJ Drama brings the microphone to life here and with shouts and producer tags, there is something immediately enticing about the production on 10. While nothing extraordinarily out of line for Westside Gunn, the recruitment of The Alchemist, Conductor Williams, Denny Laflare, Elijah Hooks, Mike Shabb, Pete Rock, RZA, and Swizz Beatz appears like an apparitional dream of hip-hop past and future.

The feature list becomes a huge surprise with the track “Shootouts In Soho” which features the well-known Westside Gunn accomplice Stove God Cook$, but also A$AP Rocky who delivers one of the more interesting match-ups in conflicting style.

Denny Laflare forms the production while Westside Gunn begins the verse with an immediate dropkick to the chin. He illustrates, “Ayo, my chef been whippin’ for three days straight, fiends locked up for four houses, damn, no shake.”

The boom-bap beat with an ethereal creep feels like a burnout on the last rock; anxious, but ultimately close to the brink of a micro-dose with death.

Westside Gunn continues on, “What the fuck is that Celine on your face? No case, drug deals, Yeezy moon boots, is lookin’ like space. Jean Paul Gaultier, see-through Jamaican tanktop. Hopped out the two-tone lord, made the bank stop.”

Then as A$AP Rocky slides into the driver’s seat for vocalization, the verse here is almost similar to what a new age Andre 3000 would spit. Starting with his recognizable low-toned vocals from the Live. Love. A$AP days, his vocals are less than braggadocious but more relaxed and almost somber at points.

He illustrates, “This is everythin’ I hoped for, wished for, and more. All I ever wanted was a Benzo, bimbo (Ho), gemstones, and a red Pelle like I’m Jim Jones.” His end rhyme here becomes a smile on the face and while not tonally uplifting, is almost a joy to hear.

Finally, Stove God Cook$ delivers the standout verse for the track. With these outstanding references to black spoons and Virgil Abloh, the verse here has repeatable lines that continue to pop after the first listen.

“I can’t answer the phone right now, I’m cookin’ dope… Got it for the low but the drought price high. Off-White clouds tell me Virgil in the sky. My bitch like, ‘Is it Ablo or Abloh?’ I don’t know, I know coke. I know Balenciaga coats, I know lighter flames under bent spoons,” describes Stove God Cook$.

10 is satisfaction packed into a capsule, glorious in many ways and emerging as a nearly 50-minute church service to dope and self-preservation. One of the later tracks, “Switches On Everything” takes a step back to observe the passing of time and the beauty of metamorphosis.

Westside Gunn who halters himself and does not deliver a full verse here on “Switches On Everything” instead lets Killer Mike, El-P, and Stove God Cook$ operate the microphones as Gunn acts like the director for these artists to create. The production which is a series of quick cut-ins and outs of major strings that coordinate to be a love letter to change.

Lacking much in sense of percussion, the strings and clinging bells format the world that Westside Gunn and associates inhabit. The first verse in particular by Stove God Cook$ is worth a double glance at the way that he manipulates the production to work entirely as a foundation. The opening to the verse is the pullback of this archangel’s curtains, the flood of light becomes gorgeous in the squalor.

Cook$ describes, “Told the plug from now on when you stampin’ my bricks, make sure it’s the image of God. And let me be clear, the image of God is the image of me and my niggas. The Last Supper is me at the table with twelve water whippers.”

Each bar on “Switches On Everything” from Cook$ is like a golden touch from Midas. This inference to the understanding of manipulation, glory, and eventually the hell of protraction.

“I done did 10 of these shits,” describes Westside Gunn on “Mac Don’t Stop,” giving one last glance into the history and triumph of Gunn. From Buffalo to Paris, California to Japan, coast to coast; Westside Gunn forms jewels and a crown of thorns that sprout into flowers and doves.

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