HMTWN - Without a Cape
by Mercedes Robinson
This Week's Rotation is for none other then HMTWN. Having released Without a Cape back in October this tape still gets HEAVY play. This week is a collaborative effort between Debonair District visionaries and music enthusiast Zay Martinez, and Mercedes "Mouse" Robinson. They give you an in-depth look at the project from two different perspectives.
Mercedes "Mouse" Robinson
I have to say, my man HMTWN (HomeTown) has dropped something so swanky, I didn't even realize it was 17 tracks until I began this here write up.
I had the pleasure of having a conversation with HMTWN after being introduced to him at a mutual friend's pool party. We were a little lit, I won't lie, but the conversation still flowed. So when I was told about his album release, I took the word of my friend Joerod and I hopped on it. And, man, am I glad I did. As I've told HMTWN personally, I am a fan!
With releasing his new album "Without A Cape" on his birthday, he not only gifted himself with the support of his peers on his big night, but he has gifted us with a stellar piece of lyrical and instrumental excellence. Right from the jump, after his heartwarming Birthday song intro, the mellow instrumental and his words about his mom had me interested to hear more. He starts the album off introducing us to his life. Things like wanting to be in the NBA, wanting to give his mother the world because she gave him the best of what she had, the death of his father. He gets pretty personal and he does it in a soulful way. But that's just song number one. Trust me when I say: It only gets better from there. There are so many dope tracks to pick from when it comes to my favorites. But I told my man's Zay that I would stick to picking my Top 5 and leave it at that. Excuse me if I have a fangirl moment when breaking this down. But understand, this man is dope.
Where do I begin?!
1) Track 3: Foreally. Boy! The keys and the orchestra sample in the intro of the beat perked my ears up immediately. The beat switch ups, his flow switch ups, the boom boom cat and the overall mix of the track, definitely in the running for my favorite song on the album.
2) Track 6: Where The Wild Things Are. I've always said the best things come in 3's. So it didn't surprise me when I found out that this song was only 3 tracks from Foreally. I mean, it's only right that my second favorite song is also a multiple of 3. But anyway, let me tell you, the chorus alone is definitely a "Lines to Rewind" moment, because that is exactly what I did. It's so catchy that I had to rewind it multiple times just to make sure I memorized it and could sing along:
"Why do I feel beyond,
Beyond all the things I see in mankind?
If you could take a look inside of my mind,
Then you'll see why my ideas collide.
I live this life. What I say is real.
Even though the News tell you all the lies.
All my life said "Thou shall not kill",
But if I don't kill, I surely would die."
I don't have to convince you anymore, do I?
3) Track 5: Bluuzone Forever (Ft. Gat$). BLUUZONE!! This song is so jazzy. I applaud Derius Myrick whom produced this joint. This is a song that I can have on repeat for hours at a time just based on the beat alone. And then when you add in the lyrical lyricism of Hometown and, one of my favorites, Gatsby, you have the makings of a masterpiece. 2 minutes and 40 seconds was such a tease.
4) Track 9: The Lil'Victories. I'm going to be honest here, I usually don't care for repetitive hooks. But this here is a chant song that I would gladly partake in. It's empowering and tells a tale of success. A started from the bottom type of track. Cocky in the best way possible. I rocks with it. Heavy. "Made the plan, and we did it" - "They showing love cause we winnin'. But they don't know how we get it." This is most definitely a #Squad song.
5) Track 14: Open Mic (Ft. Ari Chi). First off, I simply love Ari Chi's voice. The first time I witnessed her perform was at Wine And Rhyme (Shouts to Young Paris Promo) and she stole my heart with her airy soulful voice. The one thing I love about this track is the embodiment of hip hop radiating through every note. This song makes me think of home. This song makes me think of my childhood. This song makes me think of the best Hip Hop Era known to man. Don't trip and act like y'all don't know that the 90's had it on lock. You knew.
There are endless lines to rewind on this track. It's hard to pick just one or 2 quotables on this one. From simpler lines like: "Hakuna Matata. I'm Big Poppa. Nah, give me a crown like DaDa. On second thought I'm thinking 'Nah Nah'. 'Cause I ain't tryna prove nothin', I'm just tryna move somethin'." To lines that make you think: "Thinkin' bout my generation, like how the f*ck am I pushin' it? Lookin' at older n*ggas like 'How the f*ck are they losin' it?' I must admit my biggest fear is being one of them..." This track has so much heart in it. Expressing his dreams and aspirations, his fears and appreciation for his fans, and so much more. This song definitely is heartfelt.
Honestly, y'all, I have had this project in rotation everyday since the day he dropped it. Bravo, HomeTown, Bravo.
When I listen to a new project from an artist, I like to try to listen to it as if I were the artist. As if the stories that are being told are my stories. By doing so it challenges me to think in a different perspective. After all the consumption of art is solely perspective right? How can you understand what an artist is saying if you are on the outside looking in? You will be limited to a spectator’s POV. Which isn’t a bad thing, just a different experience. Now, this can only be accomplished if the artist has direction and meaning for the project. A project that I took a journey through recently hit home (No pun intended) because it’s someone I know personally, but not on a personal level. This project was a great window into his mind and life experiences. I know anyone who appreciates music with a purpose will embrace this project, but for those who need a nudge in the right direction please…..SEE BELOW.
The project is called, Without A Cape (WAC) by bay area native HMTWN (Hometown). My initial reaction to this tape was “Whoa, 17 tracks?” as I am more a fan of smaller tapes that have 10, maybe 12, tracks. So me putting on my critic hat, I looked for songs that could have been scratched. In my eyes this project was a statement from HMTWN, and every song carries its own weight earning a spot on the tape. HMTWN delivers with quality and quantity. The variety you crave to keep your attention is all there. There are the hard-hitting tracks accompanied by witty flow like “Forreally” Prod. By Santos, along with conscious tracks that display an aware mind like “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Open Mic” prod. By Elgin Louis. Bottom line, if you appreciate great production with flows that give you a screw face, WAC is that and more.
The project opens up with a gospel inspired birthday song, which was relevant since the release date of the project was his birthday. But after listening to the whole project I see that track as him being “born again”, and he’s ready to make his mark on the game. The journey that he takes you throughout the project is filled with trials and tribulations and staying true to yourself.
And he does it with just the right amount of arrogance.
My standout tracks, which change every day, have to be “No Lie” prod. By UNO featuring the amazing talent of fellow Bay area emcee Queen Of Ex (if you don’t know of her, this is definitely a great introduction). HMTWN showcases his ability to switch up flows with ease as he flows on the very nostalgic, jazzy beat. On this track he sets out to make sure there was no one out there that questioned his rhyming ability and versatility with the flows. I caught myself wishing HMTWN blessed the track with another verse *cough.