This is the 9th mixtape from Buffalo emcee, songwriter & entrepreneur Westside Gunn. At this point, what can be said about the guy now that hasn’t been said already? From running one of the hottest hip hop labels in recent memory to his first 2 full-lengths FLYGOD & Supreme Blientele, you’d be lying to yourself if you said he & the rest of the Griselda crew haven’t had the culture on lock for the last 5-6 years. Dude’s been laying low throughout a good portion of 2021 so far, but dropped the 8th installment of the Hitler Wears Hermes mixtape series & is already dropping a 9th one.
It technically starts off with the “Brodie Lee” intro & the “End How You Start” intro, but things really don’t get rolling until Conway the Machine & Benny the Butcher tag along for “Hell on Earth, Pt. 2” for some eerie boom bap coke slanger shit. Jay Electronica assists West for the jazzy “Free Kutter” calling for his homie to be released from the pen, but then “Richies” is a Gunnlib reunion reusing same sample as “Ontheway!” by Earl Sweatshirt asking if you’ve ever seen a corpse.
“Julia Lang” despite it’s brevity gets back on that yay shit with a grimy Camoflauge Monk instrumental leading into Chase Fetti, Flee Lord & Heem aligning for the disgusting 2-parter “Celine Dion”. Following this, Mach-Hommy pops up on “Best Dressed Demons” with a dusty Daringer beat declaring themselves as rolling stones just before Armani Caesar & 2 Chainz help morbidly declare that they’ll take their words to their graves for “Forest Lawn”.
Meanwhile on “Why I Do ‘Em Like That?”, we have Westside Gunn & Billie Essco jumping on top of a luxurious boom bap instrumental getting criminal minded whereas “RIP Bergdorf” finds him & Mach going back & forth nonchalantly on top of a mesmerizing vocal loop from Nicholas Craven. He later shouts out his boys Sly & J Batters on the perilous “TV Boy” while the orchestral “Survivor Series ‘95” with Jay Worthy, Larry June & T.F. declares Griselda as the new Roc-A-Fella.
Rome Streetz comes in for the JR Swiftz-produced “Eddie Kingston” saying life’s lavish & they’re beyond greatness & even though I love the classiness of “Ostertag”, it feels more like a Stove God Cook$ joint since West isn’t on it at all. “Munch” with Tiona Deniece has a bit of an R&B flare telling listeners to love how you want, but of course the AZ-assisted “99 Avirex” works in a melodic instrumental getting on their mafioso shit.
“The Fly Who Couldn’t Fly Straight” with Tyler, The Creator takes a soulful route flexing on motherfuckers while the final song “Big Al” with Rome Streetz is a depressing tribute to MF DOOM. However, the actual closer “BYE BYE” starts off with a jazz sample & then a brief spoken word passage from none other than Keisha Plum.
As much as I enjoyed VIII last month, I gravitate towards IX more & consider it to be amongst the best in the series. There are just as many features that all come correct as the first disc did, West solidifies his icon status & I like how he went with a more varied list of producers rather than sticking with The Heartbreakers again.