Yo, let me tell you about this kid, Wati Heru. The 22-year old Brooklyn native is the manifestation of Hip-Hop’s evolution and foreshadows greatness for the genre. Back in the ‘90s, bars and lyrics reigned supreme and were the ultimate testament to a rapper’s ability and authority. Now, a heavier premium is placed upon the all-encompassing musical beast that is Hip-Hop. Rappers today are respected for their diverse music acumen that can be infused with traditional Hip-Hop elements, yielding greater, deeper bodies of work than their predecessors (don’t hate me, I still love ‘90s rap—shouts to Biggie). Kanye West pioneered this movement and Wati is facilitating the initiative while adding his Brooklyn soul.
Growing up around a mother with a refined musical pallet aided Wati’s musical appreciation and development. In the words of Drake, “He She made me listen to his her music, old music, soul music, Shit that can only be created if you go through it.” Music is buried in Wati’s core; it has been a guiding source for him—it shaped his maturation; it provided life lessons; it didn’t judge him; it was, and is, his rock. While vibin’ to some Queen Arethra with moms played a vital role, Wati’s musical expedition has been chiseled by many hands.
For adolescents, seeking independence is a crucial journey that marks the beginning of individuality. Wati, like so many of us, needed to break apart from his mother’s well-intentioned grip and pursue life on his own. After vacating his mother’s apartment, Wati and childhood friends Jonah and Los leased a Brooklyn apartment, located at 1160 Easton Parkway, sandwiched between Utica and Crown Heights. The majority of the world views an address as just a place to forward cable bills and packages. For Wati & co., his address sparked a movement.
Groups are vital to musical development—OVO, Dreamville, GOOD; the list goes on and on. Having brothers to lean on and collaborate with unlocks not only musical potential, but your own potential. For Wati, that band of brothers is the 1160 crew. This one-bedroom apartment was a revolving door to 10-15 of his closest friends, including Dyme-A-Duzin, and served as a refuge for them. It was there where they bonded over mutual financial struggles, life woes and girls, and it was on those floor panels where they walked towards their musical destiny. This establishment, coupled with some chance occurrences, were the seeds to Wati’s tree of Hip-Hop.
Wati takes an interesting approach to life and music. His penchant for enjoying alternative things—in his words, “I’m, like, into a bunch of weird shit…anything anime, dystopia or sci-fi”—have contributed to his eccentric musical flavor. His EP, Dystopia Fm, is a six-track tape that perfectly embodies his diverse sound and these vibes are brought to fruition through the project’s producer, Kashaka.
Dystopia Fm explores themes of women, vices, vulnerabilities and more. The first track, "White Lines", sets the EP’s tone and is your first class ticket to board the plane to an incredible journey. Wavy sounds and funky baselines permeate your ear drums and emit this euphoric feeling reminiscent of ingesting mushrooms and waiting for a wild trip to ensue. His spoken word transforms into hard bars that are complemented by eery, ominous drums and immerses the listener into this new world; Wati’s world; the Dystopia.
Through the meadow of experimental sounds, Dystopia Fm still retains conventional Hip hop nature, specifically on "B.K.W.Y.A." This track is probably his most commercial sounding song, but don’t let that deter you—let it invite you. We’re introduced to this jam through grunts of ascending decibels that lead into a beat that forces your body to move like one of those wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men. It is an ode to his hometown, Brooklyn, and allows you to live vicariously through him as he walks BK’s rugged streets and tells his story. The song’s smooth, melodic hook emits that vintage Wati vibe and will having you singing “Brooklyn where you at” all day.
The experimental sound is redeemed on the remainder of the tape and is especially apparent on "Pink Champale". When I first heard this song I was like, “Yo, wait, this sounds like the Black Sublime” (also, that might be the coolest sounding superhero name, but I digress). The alternative instrumentals coupled with Wati’s vocals epitomize his eclectic sound and paint the backdrop to his infatuation with beautiful and tempting girls.
Dystopia Fm is exactly what music is starving for—a diverse project that can’t be pigeonholed into one genre, resulting in complete musical transcendence. It retains a bounty of different, vibrant sounds, all while forming a cohesive body of work. It’s poetic, really—each song’s divergent melodies are foils of one another; their differences highlight each other’s attributes. This tape demonstrates an advancement in music and marks a beautiful, successful future for Wati and the 1160 crew.
Wati is an interesting dude who is refreshingly different. His sound is different; he thinks differently; he perceives the world differently. I learned a lot from him and we had a great time conducting the interview and getting to know him on a more personal level. I’m excited to hear how he progresses and how he’ll leave his mark on Hip hop and help elevate the genre. Look forward to his upcoming drop, Midnight Madina, scheduled to drop later this year. In the meantime, check out his five-track EP, SOMETHING LIGHT. It, like of all Wati's work, is a wavy experience that will become a regular in your daily music rotation.
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