Anti-social tendencies. Feelings of depression and self-loathing brought on by failed relationships. Hatred of the virtual insanity we’ve turned our lives into.
Not common themes found in rap music, but then again Brandon Young of Had Enough has never clung to the stereotypical themes that define the genre today. And Had Enough’s newest album “Nihilist” is a breath of fresh air in a genre that has, more or less, become a game of copy, paste, print and play. Had Enough makes no effort whatsoever to sound like what you’re going to hear on your local radio stations. And in this case, that’s a great thing. Instead of using a bass synthesizer to produce the backing low tones, Michael Parker lays down bass lines on guitar that provide a realistic feel to the music.
Most of the tracks on this album are an exploration of the emotions that Brandon Young was dealing with while writing them. He kept it no secret that he was in a dark place when many of the tracks were developing in his mind. With the dark cloud of death around him having lost a family member and friend in the musical community, with having a relationship fail and feeling as though he was incapable of maintain such a connection with anyone else, with the ever-present struggles with anti-social tendencies and bouts of depression… Brandon put all of these experiences and emotions on paper and the result is a beautifully produced album.
While I was thoroughly impressed with the album overall, let me tell you about a few of my personal favorites.
The first track, “My Hermit Shell”, seems to be a song about the struggles of establishing bonds and finding what peace that can be found by crawling inside a metaphorical “hermit shell”. This is a compelling track that appears to be an introspective evaluation that Brandon wrote about himself. Not only this, but it’s a relatable piece for everyone. At one point or another, every person has withdrawn themselves from society and found their own hiding place within themselves where they can escape all of society. This track perfectly vocalizes these feelings of social withdrawal into song. And whether it was intentional or not, the echoes applied to the track behind the vocals impersonate that feeling one can have when lying in bed with their eyes closed and getting inside one’s own head and thoughts. It’s an eerie sensation and this tracks backing captures that flawlessly.
The third track on the album, “Alternative Facts”, is a song that couldn’t have come out at a better time. Delving into the subject of social media and how it has become an unavoidable, unhealthy obsession that has taken control of many of our lives as opposed to aiding it. Had Enough isn’t the first to take the theme of technology gone wild, but considering how social media has evolved into a culture of its own in the past few years this track is well timed and extremely relevant. The digitized voice during the track adds a hint of humor to the seriousness of the tune if you’re willing to pay attention to what it’s saying in the background at certain points. The lyrical hook to this song, “It’s not even real, we’re not even real”, playfully jabs at the fact that some people who have tried to build a phony persona in the virtual realm that doesn’t represent who they truly are in the real world.
“No Loyalty”, the sixth track, is a magnificent song. Although it’s a shorter track, it packs so much into the time it’s on. This song features local solo musician Garrett Heck who lays down some outstanding vocals during the chorus. The lyrics suggest to me that this song was a self analysis Brandon did of himself. An analysis where he sat down and looked at his personal flaws. He also compels the listener to do the same and to overcome them. Not only is the lyrical depth in this track fantastic, but the instrumentals are so good they’ll make you want to put this track on repeat. I’d be very interested to see if Had Enough will add these instruments live for future performances of this song.
This whole album is worth the listen, these tracks are just the three that most caught my attention. Another great track that gets great reactions from a live crowd is “Trash Talk”.
Having seen Had Enough develop their style and sound over the last year and a half, I can say in all honesty I was very impressed with this album. I’ve never left a Had Enough live show disappointed, but this album has now set a new bar in my mind. Having listened to the whole thing multiple times, I now expect much more from them. The progression in lyrical depth and track composition that this album shows that all the members of Had Enough and their production team are capable of is second to none. Great things are in store for Had Enough if they continue to push themselves to make music that can match the quality of this album.