Two things may not be pivotal to you, but these things root themselves in a sub-group of hip-hop that remains dormant within pop — fortunately, it doesn’t matter with the grand scheme as fans back their favorite artists from the get-go. One is their bold approach toward shock value — usually done to stir eyes before the sound flows through the headphones and into your ears; the other is maintaining consistency with a series of projects under one title. Rappers like Lil Wayne, Curren$y, Wale, and Young Jeezy are some names that may come to mind quickly. Unfortunately, like some of these rappers, it has to come to an end, and it did for Westside Gunn this past weekend. WSG has released the B-Sides for the final tape in his Hitler Wears Hermes series, which is a marginal improvement from the A-Sides — there are fewer songs with Stove God Cooks features and a little more variety.
Hitler Wears Hermes 8 B-Sides is a culmination of the best parts of the series, from the production to the multi-faceted lyrical layers weaved by Westside Gunn. Referring back to the last paragraph — along with being a series of projects, it carries a shock factor through intricate drug and flex raps and a title that shakes the dimensions of PC and woke culture — in terms of phrasing. Hermés is a luxury clothing brand, and in some respect, WSG sees himself as this erratic icon that shifts perspective through his bars and influences a new wave of lyrical hip-hop. You can also make the argument that Hitler, in this regard, represents an anti-pop rap movement that currently houses some great lyricist who lacks the exposure of someone like Moneybag Yo and Fivio Foreign. Griselda transfixes that notion, and Hitler Wears Hermes 8 B-Sides continues to back WSG’s growing prominence.
Hitler Wears Hermes 8 B-Sides isn’t the best of the series, but it sticks true to the nature of these projects as WSG contributes in peak form, despite trading bars with other more established rappers like Jay Electronica and Tyler, the Creator. WSG holds his own, despite releasing many projects over the past two years — for some, it becomes oversaturated or bored by the work due to partial redundancies. There is very little of that on the B-Sides, as it becomes warped into a transcendental flow for mixtapes — DJ and All.
Like many DJ Hosted mixtapes, Hitler Wears Hermes 8 B-Sides contains one to keep the hype in rotation, even though it isn’t as typical as the more centered projects like a Gorilla Grillz tape. It takes cues from the New York Area with the transitions and hype, transporting us to the past where producers like DJ Green Lantern and DJ Clue, amongst others, were sovereign entities for the metro area — similar to DJ Drama in the South and Don Connon in the midwest. Today, we DJ Drama has prevalence, more so than others, but another DJ continues to make his name known through his hosted mixtapes, especially in the south, Trap-A-Holics. It goes in an uncanny direction, starting with an instrumental and Trap-A-Holics keeping a subtle presence after “Julia Lang.”
Westside Gunn isn’t a novice to having a host DJ on his mixtape, with DJ Drama low-key delivering the Gorillaz Grillz flair to the mixtape while never hindering WSG’s mainstay — the vocal gunshots behind the verses. And DJ Green Lantern produced and hosted Hitler on Steroids, with other singular song producers, like The Alchemist, Jay Versace, and Madlib, to name a few, they bring distinctions to the sound; unfortunately, the producers who do the most end up hitting or missing on a few.
In between the slightly atypical production, WSG carries the weight of steering the project with some high-profile features and contemporaries of equal status, like Mach-Hommy of New Jersey or the other Griselda and Buffalo, NY cohorts. Fortunately, they hold their own over the production that sounds tailor-made for a definitive style, slowly exploring little by little. Sometimes, it matches the energy from the rappers, like on “Survivor Series 95,” which uses ominous mood-setting orchestral strings — fitting perfectly with the kind slow and effective flow deliveries.
“Free Kutter” is another example where the production matches the energy of the rappers leading the charge, especially Jay Electronica, who takes command of the microphone and raps gymnastics over Westside Gunn as he keeps up with one of the more repeatable songs. Unfortunately, this isn’t usually the case for certain parts of the mixtape, like 2 Chainz’s verse on “Forest Lawn,” as he turns into a sort of — nothing character — creating a surge to slightly fast forward to Armani Ceasar’s verse, which has a lot of personality compared to 2 Chainz. And on “The Fly who couldn’t Fly Straight,” it muddles WSG as it pushes him to the side as Tyler, the Creator ends up as the memorable part of the song.
However, this doesn’t discredit the countless layers Westside Gunn brings to her verses, like on the Madlib produced, “Richies,” which sees WSG bringing a cadence to the broken duality behind rags-to-riches — in the literal sense. Similarly, he shows that consistent veracity with “Best Dressed Demons,” matching bars with Mach-Hommy over the bleak piano keys that guide the percussion and quiet string sections to keep with the atmospheric nature of the mixtape’s production. WSG isn’t always this consistent, but as the saying goes — you win some, you lose some. It’s a testament to WSG that every Hitler Wears Hermes starts and ends on a high note. And the B-Sides is no exception, as WSG reflects on those we lost — personal and impersonal — on the song “Big AL,” before artist Keisha Plum ends the mixtape on an introspective note, leaving you with a moment to reflect on this journey.
As the mixtape Hitler Wears Hermes 8 comes to a close, Westside Gunn rides off in Gucci and Hermes in s new ride as he continues his prominence in hip-hop. Some rappers don’t see their respective series end or continue with consistency — Lil Wayne’s Dedication series started to dissipate after four. Westside Gunn keeps it authentic, without falling into similar redundancy that made others poor — as well, similarly to Cabin Fever 3 by Wiz Khalifa, which feels like a retread of the same song and dance. I implore you to check this out and the rest of his HWH series, as it is one of the better series of mixtapes that we’ve received over the past decade.