G Herbo – Survivor’s Remorse (Review)

While G Herbo has been a mainstay of Chicago drill and popular hiphop since 2014’s landmark mixtape Welcome to Fazoland, he was always a man apart from his peers. As much a part he is of the hyper violence and arrogance that put the scene on the map, there is always an element of regret and introspection in his lyrics; he might be out there drilling in one bar, but in the next you’ll hear him lamenting what brought him to this point.

Over the years, Herb has only grown more mature and accessible. Survivor’s Remorse brings this to a head in many ways; Most beats lean towards traditional trap drums rather than the bombastic “At the Light”s, and there are lots of melodic cuts. There’s even a motif in its production harkening back to the early 2000’s, from the Kanye interpolation on “Flashbacks” with Jeremih (making for a Chicago anthem), to the Blueprint, G Unit-esque guitars on “No Guts, No Glory”, “Real Rap”, and “FWM”. It gives the sense that Herb is all grown up, both as an artist and as a man.

Survivor’s Remorse feels like a spiritual successor to 2020’s PTSD given the pervasive themes of guilt, loss, and the price of fame. Take the single “Me, Myself & I”, where there is finally a separation from his come up; but having made it big, its still hard not to think about everyone who didn’t come so far or to fall back into old habits (“Can’t live in Chiraq, cause I’m sick of n—-s grievin, I’m ready to go back cause I’m sick of n—-s breathin”). A Boogie wit da Hoodie brings an epic presence as the duo continue a run of great collaborations, reflecting these same experiences in so many artists like themselves.

“Outside Looking In” sees Herb back to some impressive storytelling, recounting in detail the circumstances that drive a young man such as himself to the lifestyle other artists might not reflect upon so frankly. From the bright potential of a child to the poisonous influence of the city, it’s powerful to hear a man of his success and perception breaking it down so thoroughly. While he might make music traditionally for the streets, Herb is one of the single most underrated lyricists of his time. On “Machines”, he hangs in there with Conway and does justice to a Ka sample – something that very, very few MCs are capable of, regardless of their scene. He continues the “4 Minutes of Hell Series” on Survivor’s Remorse with what might be its best entry yet; Stretching his rhyme schemes and retooling previous bars, you’d have to think people would be raving if this were over a boombap beat.

As touching as these self aware, grief stricken tracks might be, it’s hardly a G Herbo album without some straightforward and fun tracks to flex to; For every “Sleepless Nights”, there must be a “Him”, and very few do it better. “Aye” with Offset has one of the most polished sounding trap beats of the year and Herb floats right across it with such infectious, menacing ad libs. His cadence is one of the most unique in the game; highly intentional, yet never predictable, stretching some syllables for emphasis while others are skirted effortlessly. Others like “History” or “Shaderoom” are a welcome callback to the Pistol P days and more traditional drill production, albeit with the boost of years of lyrical polish.

G Herbo – “Blues” (feat. Future)

“Torn” is quintessential Herb for how it balances both of these styles. On the surface, it’s another banger to zone out and nod your head to; But it actually holds some of his darkest and most evocative lyricism ever (“I been a gangster all my life, tryna face my fears and shedding tears on my pipe”). Regardless, even the more aggressive tracks always serve a purpose in the greater theme of Survivor’s Remorse, showing how far he has come and what can never be fully left behind.

Trauma, grief, and institutionalization are no small subjects, but few are more qualified to tackle it than G Herbo. Years of experience on both sides of the barrel, making something out of nothing, his life exemplifies the sacrifices that must be made to get what we deserve in America. Across 25 tracks, there’s never a dull or unnecessary moment on Survivor’s Remorse (although separating the more mellow, introspective tracks from the bangers might have furthered the concept), and Herb fully displays both the potenial of drill as a genre and that of every young man in Chiraq looking for something more.

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