Heno. | Sumn Slight
Family Average: 5/7
Have you ever spent too much time Googling a word in an attempt to find its meaning? I do far too often. Specifically, I just spent about 45 minutes trying to find a translation and or/meaning of the word ‘Heno.’ Apparently it means “hay” in Spanish? But don’t quote me cuz the internet is shady and I studied French for eight years… so, there you go.
Anyway, much like his moniker, the artist Heno. is hard to define. The Fam sat down to listen to his latest album and was treated to a zig-zagging, expressive fusion of genres. It’s a giant smoothie blended of hip-hop, R&B, soul-infused goodness.
Look below and see what the family had to say.
EDIT: "HENO” Is short for Yihenew which translates to "This is it” in Amharic (Ethiopian). Yihenew is also actually the name of the amazing person making this music.
A successful songwriter/rapper, it seems, needs to combine the right amount of musical experimentation, intense personal lyrics, spot on production and an R&B vibe. This is all achieved in this amazing 7 track album by Heno, "Sumn Slight".
Lyrics reflect difficulties personally and perhaps as an artist as well. He draws you into the story of each song not only through his words but also the various music he is making. On some tracks I would almost refer to the music as experimental as he is constantly trying new ways of expressing himself.
All of these elements would not be successful without the right production to pull it all together. It is apparent that production is his strong suit, because the end result is perfecto!
So with experimental stuff it can be hit or miss with me. Like, I get where this is coming from and I can dig it, but I don’t know if I’m the right audience to appreciate it. I have no problem with the vocals, the cadence, emotion, and speed were spot on. It was the other elements that couldn’t really mesh with it. When there’s a lot of different sounds going on in a song that sort of go at odds with each other, it tends to turn me off to it. The sampling in some of the tracks was distracting and would get in the way of the song proper, particularly in “Sumn Slight.” I thought that maybe it was because it was the first song I listened to, and maybe I just wasn’t in the right headspace yet for it. But even on a second playthrough I found it too jarring. And a lot of the times the sampling and vocals felt at odds with each other, like they were vying to be heard and one would drown out the other. While “Coffee” was less intense sound-wise, the drum thing was too loud and overtook the vocals, making them hard to understand except for the refrain. Rick James had no sampling that I’m aware of, but even so the vocals felt at odds with the music. Again, that might just be the irregularity that comes with experimental music, and as someone whose comfortable with order I’m naturally disinclined to like it. “No Mans Land” was one that stood out to me though. It had the most clarity, with each segment actually working together in a coherent way. It was softer, and evoked a feeling that was forlorn yet defiant. “Guala” had an interesting start, but it was hard to make out the vocals through the distortion effect. It’s utilized much better in the next song “Goliath.” Even when the drum and cymbals come in, it feels more tame than the other tracks. “St. Mantra” was a great choice to end the album, cause the band really hits their stride with it. The music and vocalist work in tandem rather than one overpowering the other.
Experimental R&B is an interesting combination. If spoken word/singing skills interest you this is worth a shot.
This album is a bit like an abstract painting; the album cover is really perfect.
Abstract but grounded. The first track “Trust Me” is especially abstract. There is a lot going on here. Lots of layers of sound and then him rapping on top of other voice and noises. His style blends and bends genres. His voice reminds me of someone but I’m not sure who, maybe it’s Russ, but that’s not quite it. Although his voice is familiar to me it's also unique and stands in contrast to the features.
Then we have a changeup with the second track, “Coffee.” More mellow and low-fi with the beat. A break. The same tone in his voice that I liked from the first track but now it isn’t competing with layers of other vocals. When he says certain lines you can hear his smile, I love when rappers do that. “The only reason they call me is to ask for some cream for their coffee,” clever clever with that metaphor.
The features impressed me, they had some nice flows and lyrics. Especially Matt McGhee on “Rick James.”
His flow and the arrangement are nice on “Goliath.”
My favorite track is the last, “St. Mantra.” The beat and where the production goes is really nice. The lyrics I really tuned into, very real, and critical. I like how he ends the track by reiterating the advice from his mom that he raps in the beginning, “if they too eager then they got an agenda.” He plants his seed and lets you know that its what he has to say.
He calls his genre “alternative soul,” which is an interesting concept. I’m not sure what to call it, but it's different it’s alternative and its got soul.
Innovation and exploration is the name of the game with Heno. There are so many fun noises jus jammed up into this seven-track album. Ample uses of low-fi sampling and heavy industrial beats give this album a persona that I want to hang out with. Being a big fan of cavernous distortion, and reverberation this album resonates with me. Is that a pun? Did I just make a pun by mistake? Whatever moving on.
“Guala” gosh is a great example of everything I was talking about before smashing together in a great way. I was having flashbacks to songs by expert weirdo Malibu Ken. The lazy swaying drum beat accompanied by scream singing echoing distantly in the background is nothing but fun for this space cadet.
Subject matter in the majority of the tracks tends to lean toward heavier subjects.
The album’s structure as far as song by song is well planned out. It successfully builds anxiety up to the fifth song and then proceeds to bring the listener back down to the ground level for the final two songs.
If any of this crazy talk has piqued your interest I recommend you check it out.