It's been a while, but BayUndaground.com has once had a chance to review two mixtape projects by Hiway representing Humboldt County: "Wayhi Certified" volumes 3 and 4 (read the reviews). Ever since then parts 5 and 6 came out, completely under our radar. But finally late 2013 brought artist's long-awaited debut, the hereby "Roadside Assistance".
If you haven't had a chance to hear Hiway's previous endeavors, then you are missing a ton of quality rap you might enjoy. His previous projects are still available for free at DatPiff, so check them out. "Roadside Assistance" is definitely a step forward, because the whole thing looks nice in a digipak, with a glossy artwork, plus mixing and mastering are as per industry's standards. Hiway still proves he's pretty versatile on the mic. You can easily recognize him by a rather high-pitched, young voice and diversified flow. Depending on the beat you can hear him rap slow, even sing a bit ("Outta Town") or spit words really fast ("Invertigo"); on such occasions he reminds me of Bizzy Bone. On top of that he brings splendid lyrics, untypical themes, not your average rhymes and rich vocabulary. I know that what I've just described sounds like hip-hop and that's exactly what it is. Bear in mind you won't get any scratches or standing-out samples, but the lyrical layer definitely has that MC feel to it. Have a look at the more or less random quote:
A Bay baby, a Valley kid and a Humboldt man
Another stoner pointing my middle finger back at Uncle Sam
Why don't you fuck off, sir?
You too, officer
I'm not a belligerent drunk, I'm a drunk philosopher
Deal with it
And in any case I handle myself accordingly
You talk shit about where I work, pfff, you're boring me
Themes include representing Humboldt County ("Humboldt Crud"), an urge to leave this place ("Outta Town") and instant home sickness ("Hometown"). There certainly is room for smoking weed ("Too Lit To Quit"), criticizing contemporary hip-hop scene ("Trippin"), being in bad mood and advising everybody to stay away ("Brake Check") as well as sharing thoughts about one's feelings ("Invertigo", "Fear Factor"). Hiway brings also a lot of humor, with the subjects, the way he raps, but also with cheesy, brisk production. You will know how he lost a lot of money at a striptease joint ("My First Time") and you will hear him speak utter nonsense on "Jibberish" where everything rhymes and flows fine, but the rapper simply spits out random sounds that don't make real words. You may ask: what the fuck? Well, that's Hiway's style, it's not your typical 100% serious street shit, with bodies piling up, guns being popped and women being pimped. Nobody dies over here, instead you will have a look at a regular life of a Humboldt County citizen, how he strives to make ends meet, how he tries to find bright sides of everything. I have already mentioned that production sometimes sounds humorous, and indeed musical styles range from simplistic electronic vibes to serious, sound-packed jams rich in instruments (mainly piano, but there are also strings, trumpet etc.). I'm not a fan of all the beats, but certainly among those 20 I can find such that I truly enjoy. The production was handled by GMG, Steve Clark, Underrated, Forest Bump, Hiway himself, J Fetti, B. Wonder and Pherocious.
I'm not a target of this cd, however I can see and hear that a lot of effort was put into the album. Northern Cali rap fans who have greater affinity to hip-hop than I will definitely enjoy this cd more. The production was not always up my alley. I found it a bit too lively, too fast, too tongue-in-cheek for my taste. I can say nothing but good words about Hiway himself, he is skilled both when it comes to rapping and writing lyrics. I will listen to this solo from time to time, but it's not something that I usually bump. With that said, if you want to get a rap album that is different from the majority of gangsta/thug/street related vibes, instead closer to average man's life, have a look at the "Roadside Assistance".
Learn more about the artist on wayhi101.com and buy the album at CD Baby.
Brian, thanks for sending the cd out.
Written by: khamenei