Heem Tells His Story “From the Cradle to the Game” (Album Review)
Heem is a 30 year old MC from Buffalo, New York who caught 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 that same winter & a debut EP High Art last spring, but is up next at bat in the BSF camp to drop a full-length debut.
“Reasonable Doubt” is a soulful boom bap opener to kick things off admitting that he’s feeling better than ever since the last time we heard from him whereas “Radio Raheem” has more of a Daringer influence to the beat asking what you really know about dope game cocaine. “Mob Business” featuring Benny the Butcher & Styles P says it all with the strongest instrumental on the album thus far courtesy of Rick Hyde just before “Caper Boy” works in some more kicks & snares talking about running up 7 figures.
Meanwhile, “Black Sheep” picks up with a piano boom bap crossover telling y’all his story as a lil’ ghetto boy from the east side of Buffalo leading into “Cocaine County” featuring Conway the Machine keeps it raw sonically talking about drowning in the dope & calling to send a rescue boat in to save them. “Picture Me Rollin’” goes chipmunk soul acknowledging that he’s come a long way from the hard white, but then “Tears of Blood” is a boom bap-inflicted ode to his real street homies.
“Mamie Lee” chops up what I assume is a gospel sample paying tribute to his grandmother while “Guilty By Association” featuring Rick Hyde returns to the boom bap talking about being products of crack money. “Long Way Home” saying it just might be do or die at the end of the day over a pillowy beat while “The Motto” dives back into the basement talking about being from the streets. The penultimate track “Young N***a Old N***a” incorporates a piano instrumental from DJ Green Lantern calling himself the chosen one & “Same Ole G” jumps on top of some organs making it known he ain’t changed.
Long Story Short was a great introduction to Heem & what he’s capable of doing on the mic, but From the Cradle to the Game gives listeners a more introspective look into his background for anyone wanting to know more about him. Although I think the production on that previous tape is better by a hair, the concept presented here of him growing up a good child & jumping into the game after going to the line is cohesively laid out with a brief yet tight feature list.