Return of the Bitter Son
"What kind of son would I be if I ain't tell ya bout yourself?" is the line that Robert Hall keeps repeating over and over again in this brilliant and interesting hip-hop track, sung bitterly to his flawed parents...first to his mom, then to his dad. Songs written to family members in hip-hop are rare enough, and they usually take the form of over-the-top appreciation (like 2Pac's iconic song, Dear Mama). These type of tracks tend to fall along the lines of a "family first" dogma that are often employed amongst violent subcultures...think of the fierce tribalism in "The Godfather," for example, or the aggressively defensive nature of hip-hop whenever someone dares to crack a "yo mama" joke. In street culture, you respect your family. You can be a misogynistic, manipulative, lying, wifebeater, but whatever Mama says, you got to do.
Of course, this is not the case in privileged, white America...in which wealthy teens so famously rebel against their parents in the storylines of 1,000,000 teenage movies.
So it's fascinating to see these two narratives cross-pollinate in "Hello," as Hall finds a moment to criticize his parents for the apparently unforgivable mistakes they made during his formative years. The track is keen, cold, and relentless, filled with powerful lines that-- while not exactly inspiring-- at least make you appreciate that Hall has found his voice to call out the bullshit that held him back for so many years. This is one of the most original hip-hop tracks I've heard in months, if not longer.