Album Review | Siul Hughes – HUEMAN

This album was released on September 15th this year. I’m personally completely unfamiliar with Siul Hughes. The reason I’m checking this out is because it was released by Fake Four Inc., which is one of my preferred independent record labels. I checked out one song from this album before listening, and I really loved it, so that’s what drove me to write a full review. His stage name, Siul Hughes, is clearly a double entendre for “see all hues,” so that’s pretty cool. I think I’m gonna really dig this album. It may not end up being one of my favorites of the year, but I already know there will be at least some material here that I love. I unfortunately couldn’t find the production credits for each individual track, but I know that some of the beats were handled by Cityscape, Bueffard Mallary, and Dan Dillinger of TXTMS.

There aren’t any songs on this album that I don’t like, so I’ll write about the full thing in the proper order of the tracklisting. The first song is called STILL DOUBTING. I really like the kind of Electronic sounding production here. It reminds me of something that could’ve been on Early Adopted‘s latest record. Hughes’ melodic delivery on the opening verse sounds pretty nice. His writing is absolutely stellar too.

I don't know where I come from, I done lost what I left with
I been lied to in haikus when truth don't sound so poetic

The rapping is easily my favorite aspect of the song. I like the production a lot though. The hook didn’t really stand out very much to me personally, but it’s not really bad. It’s just kinda there. I really love the content though. One thing I love about this album is how black it is. If you know me well, you know I love when blackness is a major theme in an album.

I'm that man in the mirror staring, my vision partial to judgement
I'm fearing for freedom from he who's fairer-skinned than my brother

The song is really dope. However, the following track, PTSD, is even better. I love the jazzy, piano-driven production here. Siul Hughes’ rapping is top notch as well.

Now I done walked some long roads, ain't much to be told
Signed a 360 deal with my alter-ego
I communicate his primes, and I never make a dime
But y'all pay his ass attention, and I keep my peace of mind

The little interlude after this quatrain reminds me of Vince Staples’ feature on Earl Sweatshirt‘s song, Burgundy. After this, Siul Hughes just completely spazzes. I mean, his vocal delivery is still pretty reserved, but he absolutely killed that verse.

Y'all just buy the advertisement, I be searchin' the store
I'm observing it more, I peep the reaper through the preacher's rapport
I hold you down with the realness that you seem to ignore
You're ungrateful, and most rappers slippin'; they're ungraceful
I wax the flow before it drops so tastefully done
Patience, my son, your place isn't won yet
And even when it is, you'll be replaced with the one next

He killed this shit. I love the cymbal percussion that comes in after the verse ends, and the singing in the background sounds really nice too. The song is dope as hell. The first super major highlight comes next. It’s called KAMEHAMEHA, and the production here is absolutely gorgeous. It kinda reminds me of the Kingdom Hearts soundtrack for some reason. It’s fucking beautiful. I love it. This is definitely a contender for my favorite track on the album, solely because of the production. Hughes killed this shit too though. The altered pitch of his voice on the verse actually sounds really good in my opinion, and his flow was buttery smooth. His melodic delivery fits over this dreamy beat perfectly.

One love to the pain that gave me understanding
One love to them girls that gave me overstanding
One love to the love that's never shown
'Cause to recognize that definitions differ is to grow

The song is relatively short, but it’s fire, and easily one of my favorites on the album. I think it’s dope af. The following track is just as good, if not better. It’s called WHERE THE HEART IS, and I think it might be my favorite track.

I don’t know. I really like this album, so I’ve been having trouble narrowing down a favorite song. We’ll see how I feel by the end of this review, but both of these songs are definitely strong candidates. Anyway, the production here is absolutely phenomenal. It’s just as gorgeous as the preceding instrumental. I really dig Siul Hughes’ melodic delivery on the first verse, and the hook is fucking beautiful.

The home ain't where the heart is, not no more
No, they ain't the same thing

The next verse has a more conventional, nonmelodic delivery. The writing here is stellar.

Doin' 90 miles an hour down a road I've never travelled
Just to find myself in battles with the shit I've left behind
It's funny how it matters more when all you got is time
There's too much on my hands, tryna sever all these ties
They like, "your thoughts are scattered," I'm like, "at least I'm thinkin'"
I write best when I'm sober, they like when I be drinkin'

The beat switches up about halfway through the song, and it’s fucking glorious. This second half is a bit more uptempo and hard-hitting.

As I lay it down on beats I pray the game my soul won't keep
If I should die before I'm great I pray the world embraces fate
When I come back like boomerang and drop a bomb like sumo weight
On USA-mericans, and bury them under pyramids, but wait…

I love the way his flow picks up at this point. He fucking slaughtered this shit. The song is dope af. The following track is yet another highlight. It’s called MOMENTS IN TIME, and, once again, the production is beautiful. It’s like the innocent spirit of a little child right before they’re traumatized in the form of music. You remember that episode of South Park where Michael Jackson moves into town and calls himself Michael Jefferson? The music that plays in the background of that episode whenever Blanket Jackson is on screen is similar to this instrumental in my opinion. I really like the personal content of this track too. The first verse is great.

One of my closest fake friends tried to put me up on Purple Rain back in '09
I didn't listen 'til now
Baba told me goin' solo had monetary benefits that I'd be surprised
I didn't get it 'til now
They used to tell me I'd blow up before I grow up, speakin' fruit on the roll up
That's food for thought I was raised on, wisdom greens with the Yoda
Smokin' bogies, drinkin' 40s before I knew what it'd do to me
Before I knew what my parents' divorce ain't have to do with me
It seems I get unruly recitin' thoughts on a stage
That means I see the truth when I'm clouded under the rain

The angelic background vocals that eventually come in sound really great. Both of the verses on this song are beautifully written, and I love the production. This shit is dope as hell. The next track is called MANIA (WHO KNOWS). This one kinda feels like an interlude. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the shortest song on the album. It’s really dope though. Once again, I love the jazzy, piano-driven production. Siul Hughes’ vocals sound really nice here too, and the pitch-shifted lines are dope too. This song sounds like it’d be perfect to get high to. The lyricism isn’t as intricate or vivid here, but the song is still really entertaining. I think it’s dope. Track 7 is called ONTO SUMN. The production on this track is a lot more hard-hitting, and less jazzy. It sounds more traditional than any of the other beats so far. The opening verse is really nice.

Honesty, vulnerability, and pain
These are the things that supersede the trends of today

The hook isn’t really anything special to me, but it serves its purpose well enough. The second verse is even better than the first one in my opinion.

These women say I'm lazy now, lazy noodle
Nah, I'm just makin' moves with '80s dudes who paid the dues
OGs fed me gems and jewels, but I never seen a silver spoon

I definitely loved the rapping here, but this is one of the weaker tracks for me sonically. I still dig the song overall though. It’s very good. The following track is another highlight entitled INANET.

This was the song that I mentioned hearing in the preamble of this review. First of all, I love the production here. It sounds really airy, yet hard-hitting at the same time. I wouldn’t exactly classify it as Cloud Rap though. However, it does make me feel like I’m skydiving. The music video is amazing by the way. I almost forgot to mention that. Even though the hook is admittedly very straightforward, it’s still really catchy. The opening verse is fire too. The way he rapped about the way people act on the internet was really cool. A lot of times when rappers do that it comes off corny or fake-deep, but I think it’s done very tastefully here.

Woke up to shawty face all in the phone
Read receipt light on, but nobody home
She passive-aggressive and act off assumptions
With accuse on accuse on accusations
My man peeped the game, said we takin' too long
They changin' the trend, now he changin' his song
Something wrong
Blame it on the inanet

As I was listening to this track, I realized that Siul Hughes reminds me a lot of Sylvan LaCue. I think Sylvan would fit on this track perfectly. A remix with him would be fire. I think the song is dope as hell. The next one is called STICK TO RAP, PT. 4. Obviously since this album is my introduction to Siul Hughes, I haven’t heard any of the preceding Stick to Rap songs. I didn’t feel like I was lost or like I was missing something though. Anyway, I really like the somber production here, and the subject matter definitely resonated with me. I found his vocal delivery pretty interesting here too. He kinda reaches into the higher register of his voice, so I actually thought it was an uncredited feature for a second when I first heard it.

Blank mind
I can't find the hang time to claim time as my profession
Professin' my lifetime, pushin' every extent of my lifeline
Yet, if looked at differently it would be quite fine
But still I stress it, neglectin' ways to obsessively deal
'Cause cess and a meal works better than feels
I mean, it's easier, more appeasin', yeah
Leaves in the trees that birthed 'em
And cursed 'em to be beautifully seasonal

He actually kinda sounds like Jay-Z here. He also reminded me of super early Kendrick Lamar. Like, mixtape-era Kendrick. Anyway, the song is pretty much just one verse, but it’s super well-written and performed.

I don't feed into the hype, I don't need a cue to write
I don't need to drop a date, y'all should have to wait
Shit, y'all should have to pay, all the best things free
But all the best things change with time like the age on the leaves
To make the rain fall, honestly I hate y'all
But hate isn't good for you, and honesty is great, dog
On the flip, when cards are flipped I appreciate y'all
I just can't relate to anything these rappers came from

The song is dope as hell. The following track is called SELFWORTH, and it has another really pretty & jazzy instrumental. I of course appreciate the encouraging content of this song as well.

"Beautiful" overrated, "beautiful" not so major
"Beautiful" just a construct to use on you for relations
"Beautiful" just remind of what you already been sayin'
"Beautiful" just the knowledge, wisdom part come in later

The beat switches up about halfway through the track. I love how pretty and buoyant this second instrumental is. It sounds like a bed of flowers in the form of music. It’s fitting that this track has one of the most beautiful instrumentals on the record. The writing is superb as well.

She woke up Cobain cold with her heart on her Hendrix
A mindset so linen when suspended from the ceiling
Maybe bird's eye view would be the only way she could see it
Her tears baptize lies she no longer believes in

The song is dope as hell. It’s followed by SELFLUV. This track basically feels like a spiritual successor to the preceding song. Once again, the melodic, lush production is very pretty. The writing is super romantic.

Mighty Midas queen
Every being you touch leaves nourished
Every finger encourages every direction
Never possession, never possessive
The wisdom in each knuckle's ridge makes contact for just a second
I experience roadways your palms pave
Your hands and feet are truly nature's design of mother's unique designation
Made for makin', not for wakin'
I wear your imprints with pride
You are indigenous to my memories
I wish I could love on cue like you
I remember remembering so much
I never acknowledged feeling like I failed you in ways only forgiven through drifting
And yeah I know you're living fully as you should be
I remember your fullness, well-rounded and versed
Even without words like "fear" and "love"

It’s performed like a Spoken Word piece, and it’s easily one of the most beautiful moments on the album. I think it’s dope as hell. The penultimate song is called HEAR MYSELF, PT. 2. This one has another really nice jazzy, piano-driven beat. The vocal sample is pretty nice too, and of course the writing is fantastic.

Thinkin' 'bout why I fear myself fallin' off
Or why I hear myself blamin' others who not involved
Resentful and unresolved, I'm checkin' my balance like every week
While I count a thousand in royalties, checkin' for hidden fees
Met a nymph who presents a perspective for what I see
And am perplexed by, afraid of clichés and what they might mean
For the indigenously traumatized starvin' artist idolizing
Vice-indulgent, drunken, stoic, sober social aqua poet

I really love the smooth melodic vocals on the hook too. This song is dope as hell. The closing track is another major highlight entitled I AM. This is easily the most hard-hitting song on the album. The Trap-influenced percussion pattern is really nice, and I love the ominous piano loop. Hughes’ relatively aggressive delivery here is really dope too. He spazzed on this one.

All this white circle black box gotta stop
Ain't no movin' forward if you circlin' your block
And it takes a village just to keep the son from gettin' shot
And it takes the world just to keep the sun from goin' out

This is definitely one of the best songs on the album in my opinion. I think it’s dope af, and a very climactic outro to the record.

This album is really goddamn great. Siul Hughes is definitely one of the most exciting discoveries I’ve made this year. I’m glad I finally got around to checking this album out before the year ended. There’s not a single track I don’t like here. I think Hughes’ poetic writing style is amazing, and the melodic, jazzy production here fits it perfectly. I don’t have a single consistent gripe. I’m gonna have to go back and check out his earlier work because I know he has at least a few other records out already. I can’t wait to hear more shit from him in the future though. I haven’t seen anyone else really talking about this album, so hopefully this’ll spark some more discussion. Don’t sleep on this one. It’s super dope.

Favorite Song: Where the Heart Is
Least Favorite Song: ONTO SUMN


Grade: A-

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