Heem Dedicates His 2nd Album “Bars & Noble” to the Day 1s (Album Review)

Here we have the sophomore full-length studio LP from Buffalo, New York emcee Heem. Catching my attention in 2020 after becoming of a protege of Benny the Butcher & signing to his MNRK Music Group imprint Black Soprano Family Records, he also made a few appearances on the label’s showcase EP prior to dropping his debut mixtape Long Story Short & a debut EP High Art. And with his debut album From the Cradle to the Game celebrating its 1-year anniversary last weekend, it makes sense for him to follow it up by releasing Bars & Noble.

“46 Long” is a soulfully drumless beginning to the album fighting his demons with weed & Hennessy maintaining his chemistry with the killaz to whereas “Lanova’s” featuring Conway the Machine & Jae Skeese brings a jazzier boom bap flare to the table thanks to Scram Jones lethally going off top for 2 & a half minutes. “Super Gangsta” featuring Illy Foo makes a murkier turn within the instrumental talking about never backing down, but then “Pookie’s First Love” stripping the drums to profess that this crack shit got a hold of him.

Benny joins Da Steemer for “Billy Goat” hopping over a grand trap beat to get back in action just before “1000 Watts” samples soul music yet again talking about doing this shit for the trenches & all the real ones that stay on the block. The title track makes a turn into eerie boom bap territory getting real with y’all leading into the dusty, hair-raising “R.N.S. (Real N***a Shit)” featuring Jay Worthy calling bluff on those who be cappin’ about the way they living.

“Life of a Gangsta” gets on his mob shit over a grim beat with kicks & snares while “The Oath” featuring Boldy James & produced by the late DJ Shay makes a soulful turn instrumentally vowing to never quit. The funky “7.62” breaks down exactly how dark & cloudy it is on his side while the piano-boom bap “1 Mic” talks about getting his mind right & his money up. “Me vs. Me” wraps things up with a soul sample dismissing any competition.

On the contrary to the idea of Heem hunkering down with a singular producer like Scram Jones or even DJ Green Lantern to fully produce an entire project for him which I think would be incredibly dope, Bars & Noble regardless stands as an enjoyable sophomore effort from the Black Soprano Family Steemer keeping the label’s continuous grind going. The production is primarily boom bap with some drumless & trap undertones, we have a brief yet mostly solid guest list & they help Heem give a dedication to the Day 1s.

Score: 7/10

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Legends Will Never Die

Just a 27 year old guy from Detroit, Michigan who passionately loves hip hop culture & music as a whole

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