Bar Exam: Hnst-T – “Breaking Ground EP”
A One Listen Review
Idaho rapper Hnst-T graced my eardrums last month with his single “Clean It Up.” That track was given an “Above The Bar” rating on the bar exam, so now I’m back for more. Hnst-T’s EP “Breaking Ground” was just released today so let’s have a listen.
We start out with a Davis Absolute “My Life” Remix. Hnst-T talks openly about his past, how he’s been humbled. He’s making sure he gives praise to God for all he has. He uses Davis’ original hook and is back for another verse. This second verse isn’t the greatest. Hnst-T has a decent flow, his inflections here seem forced. He’s trying to give texture to his voice by switching up his tone of voice but it doesn’t seem natural. “my life my pride my pain daily crucifixion” A decent start to the Ep. I’d say we’re at the bar.
Ride or Die has some spooky keys and synths, with the hook starting things off. There’s a vocal layer an octave below Hnst-T’s voice on that hook, making it seem dark and matching the tone he’s set. This song is about never ceasing praise. Illuminate joins him on the third verse and keeps the consistency coming.
There’s a short interlude before the beat drops on “Reignin.” It has a southern vibe with deep bass and hi hats, and Palace brings a simple hook over the top. Hnst-T comes with a really nice first verse about reigning in the victory of Jesus. It’s that whole “more than conquerors” thing. Hnst-T had some hot lines in the first verse. The second time through this hook I’m feeling better about it. Here on the second verse, Hnst-T comes with some different rhymes and concepts. I’ll give him one thing, it’s that his punchlines are unpredictable. He’s talking about munching mustard seeds, and how people are posturing/wanting to turn his noodle into pasta rings. This verse was a bit too much for me and detracted from how solid the rest of the song was. I’d say this one is slightly under the bar.
“Wild Boy” has a Xay Hill feature, and we hear a bit at the top before the verse starts. Hnst-T is out of the box with his flow, and I can dig it. The instrumental changes up throughout, which is a nice touch. Xay goes in on the second verse with an auto-tuned modern vibe. It sounds great. This was a really quick track that I felt it could’ve used a third verse.
[Editors Note: the project that was reviewed originally had “Clean It Up” featuring Dillon Chase as track 5]
We close out with “Clean It Up,” and here’s my notes from my first listen of that track: The beat starts out simple and adds layers as the performance grows. The first verse drops in somewhat like a freestyle. Good punchlines throughout “sin sicker than Adolf.” The beat is very nice. The flows are on point and above the bar. Topically talking about shining light in dark places. “We all dying daily so you ain’t gon’ kill a thing.” This track closes out the EP with a well rounded effort that is well above the bar.
For the version of this project that was reviewed had “Clean it Up” as the final track, I had some thoughts I wanted to share as far as track placement goes. If I had listened to it at the moment of release these notes would have been irrelevant. —It would’ve been interesting to hear “Clean It Up” as the first track, which could have changed the overall tone for me. I believe in starting with your best foot forward, and putting the lead single at the top of an EP like this could set the tone for the listener. However, I understand ending with a strong effort as well because it leaves the listener optimistic and on a good note. Needless to say that’s precisely the issue with a small EP. There’s not much that could be done in order to fix that small issue.
In order to stay honest and faithful to how I encountered the album, I will not omit that song from this project for the sake of the Bar Exam. This Bar Exam is written considering “Clean It Up” as track 5.
Overall, Hnst-T has some talent. It’s hard to gauge fluidity on an EP, but I’d say these songs were placed in a decent order. For a final thought, this EP is feature-heavy, and while Hnst-T had some bright spots, in the future I’d love to hear more songs that he carries on his own. “Breaking Ground” was an enjoyable listen and I’m hopeful for a future of more music from Hnst-T.
Overall Rating: At The Bar