Das Racist’s Heems solo effort ‘Nehru Jackets’ offers charming, familiar sound

By Charles Dominguez ’14

Heems – “Nehru Jackets”

7.5 out of 10

Photo by Atticus Finch via Flickr - Rapper Heems performs with his group Das Racist in New York’s Highline Ballroom Feb. 3, 2011
Photo by Atticus Finch via Flickr - Rapper Heems performs with his group Das Racist in New York’s Highline Ballroom Feb. 3, 2011

“Nehru Jackets” is the first solo effort from Heems, member of New York based hip-hop outfit Das Racist.

Although the group’s funny man has been establishing a name for himself since 2010, last September marked their first official release, “Relax.”

While the album offered heightened production value and a new direction, it lacked a lot of the personality and wit that made their free mixtapes so endearing.

Thankfully, Heems has taken it upon himself to change this trend. “Nehru Jackets” is a return to form, shining the spotlight on the humor that makes me want to follow Heems, while still pushing forward the ideas that “Relax” ushered in.

Clocking in at just more than 70 minutes, a lot of content is packed into this mixtape. Luckily, the production of Mike Finito keeps each track both smooth and consistent.

Although he is relatively new to the production scene, Finito is a friend of Heems and has worked with Das Racist in the past.

Credibility and interest are added to the tape with solid guest spots ranging from Action Bronson to Childish Gambino. Yet while the production and guest spots are certainly a nice incentive, Heems is the real reason to listen to this tape.

Throughout the course of 25 tracks, he explores several dynamic sounds, personalities and styles, displaying versatility that just wasn’t evident with Das Racist. While Heems chooses a laid-back flow on “SWATE” and “Bad, Bad, Bad,” tracks like “Alien Gonzalez” offer a heated, energetic delivery.

In addition, the rhymes and references themselves are better than ever. Along with the usual wit (case in point: his reference to Paula Cole’s “I Don’t Want to Wait” in opening track, “Thug Handles”), there is plenty of social commentary, infused with personal ideologies.

“Nehru Jackets” is proof that Heems can stand on his own as a hip hop artist. However, while I think the sheer amount of music is managed very well, I can’t help but feel that only half the album is worth returning to. The short, two-minute tracks peppered throughout the mixtape just do not have enough impact outside of a full listen. While there are plenty of tracks worth multiple listens, the sound bites flow best when sampled from start to finish.

Overall, “Nehru Jackets” is a great mixtape; it offers Heems’ trademark charm injected with relevant social commentary. But perhaps best of all, it offers more from a rapper that I love.