In his second single to drop in 2020, “Wholething,” the artist known simply as HEwas is teamed with Afroman for a track that allows for stripping away the cosmetic charms of mainstream pop even further than before, revealing the former’s true values in the process.
HEwas does not strike me as the kind of player who cares all that much about satisfying the establishment. Furthermore, if there is some sort of hidden desire to blend with the Soundcloud scene, it’s completely absent from the elements comprising this release. “Wholething” is a middle finger to the commerciality in hip-hop, R&B and pop, and for a discriminating listener, powerful audio worth paying attention to.
The pop aesthetic is much more noticeable in this performance than it was in “Lemon,” the first song I heard by HEwas in 2020, and I like the way it’s been sewn into both the instrumentation and the vocals layered atop it. There’s no excuse for over the top bass spillage here, and thus, it’s absent – rather than trying to impress us by including more firepower than he actually needed to, this is an artist who is thinking on his feet and staying out of the excesses that just as soon ruin a young musician’s mainstream hopes.
Afroman’s very presence alone almost makes this song feel like the just the throwback to the old days I needed to hear this December, but it’s not emphasized enough to take any of the gas away from HEwas himself. There’s something really chill about the way they both seem to bite at their lyrics, reminding me just how well alternative rock melodies flow with a hip-hop-style beat when we get into the headiest of moments here. Theirs is a primo chemistry, and I hope it isn’t the last time we’ll get to hear it.
Overall, “Wholething” has such a loose instrumental arrangement that it actually draws the spotlight far more towards the soulfulness of the melodies than it does anything either of these two vocalists are trying to say linguistically, but that’s not an issue when taking into account the fluidity of the rhythm here. It’s not quite a ballad, but this song has a slow-churning groove that makes me want it to last forever when we get to the halfway point in the song. That’s a special effect if I’ve ever come across one, and it’s what makes this piece so perfect for HEwas’ current status in the underground.
HEwas is out to prove he can be stealthily soft and unassumingly potent at the same time in “Wholething,” and if you haven’t listened to this track or its counterpart in “Lemon” so far this year, I wouldn’t recommend going into 2021 without at least giving them a decent sampling. HEwas and Afroman bring the big guns out for this material, and if they make a point of getting back into the recording studio to experiment together again in the future, I’ll be reviewing whatever the fruits of their collaboration shall be.