Arabesque :: Hang Your Heroes :: URBNET Records
as reviewed by Pedro 'DJ Complejo' Hernandez

Overcoming adversity is a concept Arabesque is very familiar with. After the death of his girlfriend, Arabesque used the grief to fuel his career and has achieved a lot in a short amount of time. Already nominated for a Juno award (Canada's Grammy), Arabesque's top spot along Canadian rappers is set in stone. His accomplishments would be praiseworthy for any young rapper, but Arabesque's roots make his rise to the top even more impressive. Not only is Arabesque middle eastern, but specifically he's Palestinian - a region that causes negative and positive reactions every time it is mentioned. Am I implying that it's hard out there for an Arab? I would only assume so given the mixture of misinformation, stereotypes, and xenophobia that has spread throughout the world after a certain Jay-Z album release date. Of course, Hip-hop has always been the place for the oppressed to express themselves so it's only right that those who didn't believe the hype 20 years ago continue to see through the wool thrown over our eyes.

The mixtape is hosted by Rah Digga, but she is not at her best as she only drops by for the occasional "Yo, this is Rah Digga chilling with ...etc." - I really hope she didn't get paid for this as a Rah Digga endorsement ain't worth much in my eyes. Matter of fact, I don't think Rah Digga even bothers to drop a verse or a freestyle on the tape so Digga fans need not peep this if they were looking for that. Arabesque himself makes a strong, if unexceptional showing. The intro sets the tone for the "hang your hereos" theme as it features news excerpts of various "heroes" that have been murdered throughout the years. "Lines of Love" opens up the album with Arabesque reflecting on his troubles with love:

"I spend my days looking for companionship
Usually get gipped and settle for thick hips
Pepperoni nipples and fat tits
My dick wills for Catholic school outfits and chills
Remembering of car accidents
I've been alone ever since
Coffee grinds and cigarettes with a taste of decadence
Call me Wednesday, cause I tend to hump
Days in slump, down in the dumps
Thick in the west Indian rump"

Arabesque revisits the love theme a few more times on the album which is expected given his tragedy, but he also addressed plenty of other issues people can relate to. On "Marlboro Man" he addresses politics and the situation in the middle east. "Politics of the Blaow" is a mixture of social commentary and Arabesque's own beliefs. "In A Bottle" finds Arabesque addressing alcohol in a clever, but still serious manner:

"Jay wanna diss Ms. Cris
Armandale paid for the Swiss on his wrist
Alcohol abyss is the devil's accomplice
Fuck up regardless, the Belfast kiss
Pale ale skin with zinfandel grin
Flash her the gin with Singapore sling
Bet you wanna save lives, but he knows lies
Booked in his ride when he worships St. Ides
Overcompensate for a loaded ruger
Drunken loser, loves sambuca
Piss away pay checks at happy hour
Daiquiri deflowered, whisky sour
Black cossack and a black Russian
Blew two hundred but I'm barely buzzing
Under the rug, tequila slug
Booze, huh, one hell of a drug"

Arabesque tends to be serious but he also lightens up and gives a little of everything on the mixtape. "How to Chop an Arab" is a funny skit dealing with how to pick up Arabs. Arabesque even throws in a screwed up track with "Stick A Match (Screwed)" - which is a refreshing reminder of how much screw music has spread recently.

Overall, "Hang Your Heroes" is a solid showing for Arabesque. The beats are all consistent, though you won't find anything overly catchy or danceable. Lyrically and vocally, Arabesque brings something new and fresh to the table as he has a distinctive voice and thought provoking lyrics. He makes note of his Arabian roots, but outside of the occasional mention Arabesque keeps it universal and doesn't alienate fans. The mixtape is a little disjointed, which is expected, but this does a good job of giving you a feel for what to expect from the man in the future. As I said before, for the time being Arabesque was solid but nothing on this mixtape grabs your attention too much. I expect him to step his game up on a full length album and give us catchier songs and more cohesive project.

Music Vibes: 6.5 of 10 Lyric Vibes: 6.5 of 10 TOTAL Vibes: 6.5 of 10

Originally posted: December 4, 2007