Antwon is an emotional enigma. He is, seemingly at all times, both incredibly lonely and incredibly horny. Heavy Hearted In Doldrums maps out Antwon’s internal existential crises and smashes them, time and time again, against an unquenchable libido that burns with the heat of a thousand suns. That might sound dramatic, but keep in mind that Antwon squeezes together at-odds lyrics like “I cry alone at night/I don’t try to make it right” and “I skeeted in her throat” in a 40-minute timespan without any reservations. It’s a dichotomy that’s difficult to mentally reconcile, until you realize yeah, that’s kinda how things work on a plane of realistic absurdity.
Heavy Hearted In Doldrums is being hailed as Antwon’s first proper album, though 2012′s End Of Earth and 2013′s In Dark Denim mixtapes put him on a bigger map. But Heavy brings his punk past and pop-addled hip-hop affinities into a fully-realized, anything-goes orgy. And when you take into consideration the fact that he spent time in the Philly hardcore band Leather, the darker edges of Heavy Hearted start to make sense when they’re shaking around with his horned-up boom-bap.
The best parts of the album come when Antwon’s sexuality threatens to unhinge his mental state. In the video for Don’t Care, Antwon pouts about his loneliness in a cold poolside mansion while a bikini-clad woman lounging next to him takes apathetic selfies. The crushing isolation-fueled boredom is once again held off by the physicality of constant sex. Lyrics like “Hold you from the back/kiss the side of your face” jerk the listener around from hormone-fueled chaos to sweet and cuddly partnership, all running through the veins of thick, chucked-out verses. Baby Hair (“As long as your daddy don’t care, girl/I’ma run my fingers through your baby hairs”) features a strong, squishy beat from Tulip Pezley and ups the sexual ante to 11 while Antwon’s gruff, almost brooding, cadence stays the same.
There’s also an element of mediated love here. As in Don’t Care, the moody slow jam Loser carries a nihilistic weight. It opens with Antwon practically yelling, “I used to have a heart/it was filled with love,” and moves on to musings like “What the fuck’s it take to share love in these modern days?”. The funk-dabbled Stop and the nostalgic wave-ride of No Metro Nome are both album highlights, leaning more on crisp beats and twisting lyrics than on how hard they can make your mom blush.
Antwon tries to hold up the roof of the underutilized underground on the album’s guest appearances: the faded, lava-lamp rhymes of Lil Ugly Mane on Rain Song; the snotty, pitched-up snarl from Wiki on No Metro Nome; the dictionary-pounding, crowded wordplay of Heems and Lakutis on KLF ELF. And for the most part it works, except when the guest doesn’t seem to fit the theme. The wide-shouldered, wise-cracking verse from Sad Andy on Don’t Care, for example, comes off as out-of-place and unwarrantedly boastful.
You’ve gotta give it to Antwon though, Heavy Hearted In Doldrums is not the sort of album that just anyone could pull off. It’s strange and captivating, like something on the internet you shouldn’t be looking at, and it’s simultaneously tasty and tasteless. Plus, he’s probably one of the only rappers who could fit the line “just don’t barf in the Volvo” into a raunchy sex song and make it sound cool.