Phrases / Jennalynn Fung

Photographs / Esther Kim

Sooner or later, it doesn’t matter what Warren Hue is saying on stage, as a result of he has the gang on lock. His presence is surprisingly formidable as he shouts into the microphone, voice bellowing into the larger amphitheater. Backstage, he’s comparatively quiet and doesn’t draw consideration to himself. 

It’s apparent that this isn’t his first rodeo – he’s been a performer at 88rising’s Head within the Clouds (HITC) earlier than, many instances, and though his discography is greater and his favourite colour has gone from yellow to purple (paying homage to his authentic artist title: “warrenisyellow”), only a few parts have modified. When it comes time for an interview, Hue is relaxed, reclined on the garden chair. 

His title has been on the lineup for HITC greater than as soon as. He carried out right here final yr for HITC’s first enlargement into the East Coast, and his 2024 return to Forest Hills Stadium is kind of a trip to New York for him and his associates. He has no motive to be nervous, absolutely conscious that individuals listed here are keen to listen to him dwell. “It’s simply all the time a healthful power on a regular basis – New York’s one in every of my favourite cities,” he says coolly. “I’m simply excited to carry out new music and see my followers once more. So it’s a very good time.” 

His easygoing demeanor in NYC is likely to be as a consequence of extra than simply familiarity with 88rising; the Indonesian artist practically attended artwork college in New York, influenced early on by his mom’s personal vogue pursuits, and his father, a garment employee. Now, as a longtime singer, he nonetheless retains an eye fixed on new developments, stating that his present favourite developments are sports activities jerseys and mesh materials, in addition to the eclectic and daring designs by designer Martine Rose. Had it not been for music, Hue says his future would’ve nonetheless been arts associated, like movie or vogue.

Nonetheless, what made Hue select music over the opposite mediums was how straightforward and naturally it got here to him. “I really feel like vogue is a bit of tougher generally, and movie could be time-consuming,” he says. 

As an adolescent, Hue attended the British Worldwide Faculty of Jakarta, and commenced making music for enjoyable, enraptured by the limitless prospects of sound. He began freestyling round 13 along with his associates. One in all his first music movies was filmed in school, for “Swimming Pool” ft. Erika Prihadi, which was the start of his native profession. “Simply me experimenting on a regular basis once I was younger – it labored out for me. I already garnered a good following again in Jakarta; though it was native, it was sufficient to inspire me to push tougher. Step by step, I simply loved the artwork of simply making music and the way artistic you will get with it. I’m simply in love with storytelling usually and hip hop music, so simply caught with me over time.” 

Now, at 21 years outdated, he’s signed to 88rising and based mostly in Los Angeles, pressured to acknowledge the obligations that include his music, akin to offering for his household. It’s not only a passion – it’s his job. “I don’t have as a lot enjoyable as earlier than, for positive. Nevertheless it’s nonetheless music that I get pleasure from making.”  

Whether or not his music has grown lyrically, although, is questionable. Hue’s involvement and consumption of hip hop music has all the time been at a distance – and that handicap is mirrored in his early music. Most of his songs don’t dwell on private tales or hardships just like the OG hip-hop does. As an alternative, they learn as fast quips and impulsive rhymes, which is sensible when he reveals that within the studio, he tries to seize the primary melodies that come to his head, and tries to “lay it down as quickly as doable” as a result of they really feel probably the most pure. 

Hue’s rhythmic ability is plain, with many freestyles out there for view on YouTube. His potential as a rapper is immense, however his frequent reliance on referencing celebrities and luxurious manufacturers, in addition to repetitive themes of self admiration and sexual exploits can really feel mundane and disappointing. 

For instance, in “BOTYFREESTYLE#1,” traces like, “Her legs broad, it’s panoramic” and “Really feel like Drizzy on Views / I obtained loads of benjies” showcase his knack for catchy phrasing but additionally spotlight a dependence on superficial content material– although he’s removed from the one rapper with these pitfalls.

He cites Tyler, the Creator and Mac Miller as a few of his largest rap inspirations, and you may see their affect, however Hue’s lyricism doesn’t come near their depth. As an alternative, Hue’s work is extra much like Amine’s ONEPOINTFIVE, which had come underneath related criticism by Pitchfork’s Sheldon Pearce, who wrote: “the songs on ONEPOINTFIVE aren’t rapped with the identical pleasure … they’re considerably much less attention-grabbing, much less curious, and fewer story pushed. His swaggering is all bluster, no appeal.” His phrases additionally resonate extra strongly along with his idol-turned-collaborator, Wealthy Brian, who relied on related themes of flex-culture in his earlier work. 

It’s not that Hue doesn’t take his lyrics significantly in any respect, although. Each Brian and Hue have been upfront about their warning in the direction of rapping in Indonesian. Whereas the artist has included a handful of phrases into his songs on his first album, SUGARTOWN, he hasn’t dedicated absolutely as a consequence of his respect for the language, saying, “I don’t wish to make it mild or one thing, particularly being not crazy-fluent in Indonesian.” 

Though the shortage of seriousness is likely to be disconcerting at first look, it means Hue has a whole lot of house to develop and enhance, and he nonetheless has loads of gravitas as a performer no matter what he writes. Whereas his first songs like “candychoppa” begins off with phrases like “Fuck a foul bitch, all I want is a full package deal,” his newer work like “SPLIT” and “RODEO” present extra substantive storytelling. 

In “SPLIT,” themes of nostalgia, craving and private battle present a refreshing glimpse right into a extra nuanced and reflective aspect of Hue. Sonically, “SPLIT” is one in every of his greatest tracks, with a criminally addictive beat that Hue believes you’ll be able to “get pleasure from every day.” His singing voice is extremely clean on this track, too. 

“Boy of the Yr” in all probability most precisely characterizes Hue as an artist in the present day, although. It mixes his typical bravado with moments of introspection; dominating the track are traces like “All my opps and my shawties know I’m good-looking,” however the track contains hints of intimacy, with “All this ice, however I simply need you to reply.” This distinction highlights Hue’s potential to mix his assured persona with real emotion, making a extra compelling narrative. Sarcastically, this introspection is likely to be much less evolution of Hue than it’s a foil. Chasu, his long-time producer, is the one who sings the emotionally susceptible refrain, bringing into query whether or not Hue even wrote it. 

“RODEO” which comes out Could thirty first, 2024, although, is a step ahead for Hue. Stuffed with themes of worth and self-worth, the track is about uplifting and validating his accomplice past the superficial excessive of gear and luxurious objects. Whereas he takes his love curiosity to Rodeo Drive and clothes her in Saint Laurent, he acknowledges that these exterior symbols will not be the true measure of her value. It is sensible given the music video setting is Hue standing alone in a discipline of flowers. 

The refrain, with its repeated question about having fun with the excessive “generally, not on a regular basis,” suggests an consciousness of the non permanent nature of such highs and a deeper eager for a connection; the track’s introspective moments are about shifting previous superficial relationships, eliminating haters, and a need for fostering supportive connections. 

“RODEO” was engineered by Chasu and Joe Cho, however stands out sonically from the remainder of his discography, weaving Hue’s voice into synthy-rock and keys, a mix that looks like a euphoric trill at instances. Hue states that he’s all the time looking out for brand new sounds, telling me, “I really feel like if you happen to simply make the identical outdated factor, it simply feels too industrial. And that’s not my purpose.” Ultimately, Hue is making an attempt to create music that’s new to him, making his studio much less of an workplace job, and extra of a playground for creativity. 

Hue’s circulation has all the time been prime quality, however his capability to attach with listeners on a profound emotional stage has been missing. Crowd-work can solely achieve this a lot for the hype, however the feeling audiences go house with is and all the time will probably be contingent on the emotion of his lyrics. 

His newest tracks “RODEO” and “SPLIT” are for his upcoming mixtape, TUNA, which he describes as “cool vibes.” It’s not meant to be an album; “[It is] not doing an excessive amount of – much less conceptual. It’s only a assortment of songs that I’ve revamped the 2 years,” he says. However TUNA serves as a precursor to his subsequent album, ARTHUR, which he says will “exist in the identical sounds and be constant.” 

Hue’s rising capability to steadiness partaking, high-energy music with deeper emotional themes, displays his potential as a real artist. His dynamic vocal supply and seamless integration of assorted beats are indicative of his robust musicality, however his maturing lyrics will allow him to realize much more.