Young upstart rapper Joe West drops a colorful and abrasively up-tempo new single “Him,” which has been kicking up quite the buzz-storm among his scene and beyond this month (though not without just cause). In “Him,” West establishes himself as an alternative to the commercialized mainstream hip-hop sound not only through his bold, unguarded lyricism but via his sultry instrumental grooves as well. It’s a tough track for any rap fan to put down, but beyond possessing a catchy beat, it’s one of the more well-constructed compositions I’ve had the pleasure of looking at lately.
There aren’t many indie rappers attacking the hook with the deliberately relaxed style that West does in “Him,” but his use of an experimental tempo doesn’t mar the track in discordant unevenness – the exact opposite. He’s able to create a lot of additional anxiety that wouldn’t have been there otherwise in the refrain, which, at the end of the day, makes the release at the finish all the more satisfying for listeners. There’s a method to his madness, and it’s working magnificently well in this particular track because of the angularities the song contained, to begin with.
This pendulous strut to the beat adds to the cathartic fever pitch in “Him,” but I’m not convinced that it’s the sole reason why this single hits as emotive a note as it does. From the lyrics to the very structure of the melodies around them, there’s an audacious feel to every stitch of audio that we’re listening to, and scarcely is there a moment where this feeling doesn’t translate into the reaction of the audience. It’s the handiwork of a player finding his footing, but a rapper with the moves of a skilled, naturally-gifted talent nonetheless.
“Him” has somewhat of a pop energy as it clings to its last minute of play, and when combined with the blisteringly black and white make-up of the bassline, the song concludes with even more of a chills factor than it first begins with. In this sense, West has a lot more in common with DaBaby than he does any of the indie artists he’s been coming up against on the coast lately, but I would stop short of comparing his style with anyone else’s beyond that right now. It’s worth pointing out, I think, that he’s a unique artist finding a path, and although it might be similar to others, it has little to do with some burgeoning underground trend.
I’ve always said that there’s no such thing as a perfect pop release, but a single like Joe West’s “Him” comes about as close as you can without devolving into sarcasm and saccharinity. West has still got plenty of room for growth, but for all of the talk about how the young talent we’ve been hearing from in the last couple of months hasn’t been able to stand up to the California and Georgia scenes, this man’s latest official track blows that narrative right out of the water (and puts his name right on the map).