Entering the final act of one of the most revered mixtape series’s in hip hop’s entire history, Westside Gunn has released the long awaited HWH8. Giving fans the record in two parts, with Side A releasing on August 27th and Side B releasing on September 10th Gunn looks to make this record the grand finale fans have been waiting for. With 13 songs in Side A, will the beginning of Westside’s farewell statement embody everything that made this franchise so beloved, or will it turn out to be a disastrous mess?
With 13 tracks and 11 featured artists, Side A does a good job at embodying Westside’s visionary ability and showing off the talent of the Griselda camp as a whole. From both a stylistic and topical standpoint, Westside is not doing anything but sticking to the same formula that’s gotten him to this point which is hardly a bad thing. What makes this project stick out from the rest of Westside’s catalog is that 12 of the 13 songs contain at least one feature, with nearly every performance being a memorable one. From newer signees like Boldy James and Rome Streetz to day ones such as Benny The Butcher and Conway The Machine, each MC is given their respective time to shine alongside the 39-year-old innovator. When it comes to the power of features, no artist has more of a prevalent role than Stove God Cooks, who spits five different verses over the course of the project. While certain cuts like “Mariota” and “Claires Back” show guys like Stove God Cooks and Conway outperforming West, it almost feels like Gunn took a step back intently to let the other MCs shine. In all honesty, this is can get frustrating at times as the rest of the series always set the spotlight on Westside Gunn, so for it to be pulled off him in the final chapter is confusing, to say the least.
Aside from breaking the continuity of the seven other installments, each track is very solid, and hearing Westside work with so many skilled MCs makes each song feel like a whole new adventure. Names like Mach-Hommy and Jadakiss stood out in this lyrical madhouse due to their track-defining performances, which embodied all aspects of their greatness and Westside’s collaborative ability. Out of all the verses in this entire section, Lil Wayne on “Bash Money” was the definite peak of the record and possibly Weezy’s feature catalog as a whole. Over a grimey dark boom-bap beat, Weezy shows that he is still in his technical prime with a cold verse that’s filled with memorable punchlines and a one-of-a-kind delivery. Overall, while Side A of HWH8 may not be the showing of Westside’s greatness many may have expected, its feature-filled approach makes it feel like an all-star game between some of the best lyricists out right now.
- Amazing collaborations
- Top-notch lyricism
- Embodies the past, present, and future of the Griselda movement
Why Isn’t It Rated Higher:
- Doesn’t build on the rest of the HWH series
- Westside Gunn never feels like the star of the record
- Feels more like a Griselda compilation than a Westside Gunn album
Written By: Mr. Fantastic