A little restrained but significant enough to the backend of the master mix that we wouldn’t be listening to the same song without its presence, the beat we discover beneath the verses in “Wholething” is indeed a major point of interest for HEwas fans this December. Though perhaps not as important to the understanding of the narrative as the verses HEwas and Afroman are injecting the song with, the quiet percussive pulsations that will structure the rhythm of the music here are a subtle but standard-setting element you can’t remove from “Wholething,” and if you listen closely enough I think you’ll understand what I mean. If emotional vulnerability is to mean anything in this genre, creating a groove that imitates the gentle thrust of a beating heart is the point of conception inside of a studio’s four walls. 

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Aside from the most obvious of instrumental strengths in this single, the vocals that we find here are slick and polished to set a sort of contrast up with the raw nature of the melody and beat. Afroman is his usual keen self in this performance, but I don’t think he was looking to get excessive with any element of his rhyming here. He leaves all of that to HEwas, who has no problem digging into his verse with a brash melodicism that would be abrasive were it not harmonizing so beautifully with the synthesizer parts in “Wholething.” This is the definition of alternative R&B and new wave hip-hop, and it doesn’t take a professional critic to recognize as much. 

Afroman easily could have stolen the show away from his collaborator in this single had he seen fit – almost solely because of the mileage he has under his belt by this point in his long and storied career – but he’s instead intent on sharing the spotlight with HEwas in one of the more endearing ways I can fathom. He’s not giving us the full degree of moxie he would in his own work, or even something with a major label player, but instead something that the main focus of the release is able to use as faceting to construct an entire narrative upon here. This is how you help indie artists come up in a hurry, but more importantly, it’s how old school music became so pure and homespun at its most refined and well-remembered. 

APPLE MUSIC: https://music.apple.com/uy/artist/afroman/id88434

I came into this review of “Wholething” with some serious expectations given how much I liked what I heard in “Lemon,” HEwas’ first single, but I can happily report they were all met and then some. This is probably the more commanding performance between the two songs he’s got in his discography at the moment, and while a lot of that is to be expected in someone who is gaining the kind of professional traction he is this year, it’s still something to marvel at from a listener’s point of view. I’ll be watching to see what happens for him next, but judging from what he’s done so far, I think I’m going to like it in any case. 

Garth Thomas