by Chris Gilliam
And yet again, another independent Tulsa artist releases an LP that shatters genre definitions, exceeds any expectations or promotion and gives even more need to the scream to the national scene that something is going on in Tulsa. That something continues with the October 2017 release of Nihilist from Had Enough. Mugen Music artist Brandon Young has been on the hip-hop scene as Had Enough with a demo release in 2010 and four subsequent album releases in the last three years while also performing with many large, national acts. Establishing himself as a trendsetter within his own genre for nearly a decade, Nihilist now takes a sharp dark turn into a macabre and disturbing world of depression, narcissism, anger and cynicism. Even visually, the dark tone of the album is set from the cover art from Pak Man featuring a goat's head hanging on a chain with a black background. In the waning weeks of 2016, Brandon lost his grandmother and our good friend John Holata within weeks of each other, throwing him into a deep state of depression and reclusiveness. The very act of having to put on a mask to go out in public, something many of us know all too well, on top of other personal, emotional conflicts results in the best to come from Had Enough to date with Nihilist. This ain't your daddy's rap. This is that something that you simply cannot define.
We push play and immediately the track's Gothic tone is set with an ethereal synth followed by a steady, deep beat and introspective lyrics on “My Hermit Shell.” “Been through the worst, but I hardly wept / So I swallowed my pride til I starved to death.” Brandon noted in an open letter on Had Enough's Facebook page regarding the new release that “I've always used my music to pour my heart out on the table and expose my flaws and insecurities. And that's exactly what you get with Nihilist. It's a very personal and dark album.” And we can see these inner demons exposed right from the start. The struggle continues in “The Narcissist” - “I'm a piece of shit and I'm not sorry” and The line “Feel's like my time's up / Life's a stopwatch / It's me against myself...” in “Misanthropic.” “I wear a mask when I leave the house / It's my outfit / My heart screams for peace / You go deaf by the sound of it” from “Work-In Progress” and “I don't wanna cause an uproar / yes the pain stings but still I want more” from “Still I Want More” reveal the introvert within, another facet of the 'personal and dark' nature of the album. “The ladies love me / The men envy me / But I'm hollowed empty might birth the end of me / Looked up as a pimp by my own peers / But no one sees me wipe away all these cold tears” in “No Loyalty” is one of the best lines on the album creating the baseline of angst from where all emotional toil begins from within through the writer. To boot, Garrett Heck's vocal track on “No Loyalty” is as haunting as the album itself and is duly worth noting.
The album also has a brighter side for sure. It's not all doom and gloom. “Trash Talk” featuring Dab The Rippa is a funny, opinionated trash talk track where Dab's lines and Brandon's lines are perfectly intertwined and pitched together. The delivery is impeccable, making the song enjoyable to listen to and smiling at the same time. The catchy “A Rose In Winter” featuring Dasclauzy is a collaboration across continents. In his interview on Porch Talk with Chris & Laura, Brandon elaborated on the collaboration which was a first for him and ended up being the start of something more to come down the road. There's a throwback jam feel in “Bad News” featuring returning vocalist Elissa Mae & the fast-rising artist AshFree. The simplicity in the song allows for all vocals to stand out and AshFree flat kills it with his smooth delivery. My favorite track on the album is “Alternative Facts” a funny dis track poking fun of the glued-to-our-cell-phones digital generation exposing that not just social media, but society in general“it's not even real, we're not even real.”
In the open letter as mentioned above, Brandon also expressed he didn't want an album that expressed only sorrow and vexation, but also something showing his development as an artist as well. Through Nihilist we finally see what that 'next step' is for Had Enough. The contrast of difference between the single release “Asleep In The Clouds” included on the album Wake Me Up When The World Ends (2014) and the tracks on Nihilist truly reveal the determination, revelation and development required for an artist to 'mature' or 'take the next step' which is exactly what Had Enough has done, including the addition of Mikey Bones and Darko to the live lineup providing an even more intense and entertaining aspect of the performing artist. And as it has been since the late 2000's until now, Had Enough continues to amaze us, to scare us and to lead us to question things we may have not questioned and answer things we may have not answered through a variety of songs that truly mesmerize you. To repeat, Nihilist is that something you simply cannot define.